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Full text of "The gun-bearer. A novel"

LIBRARY OF THE COMMANDERY OF 

the: state ofmassachusetts military 
order of the loyal legion of the 
united states 

cadet armory, boston 



ix- 5 



805 



v5 



THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 



i 

*• TO THE 



U TERARV EO/T0 ^^ 

Pnt***,'" *" ******** .,. 



PUBLi^ 



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THE GUN-BEARER. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/gunbearernovelOOrobi 



"' ' ^~ ': 




'you sit down, and I'll bkad."— See Page i<>. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



21 Novel. 



EDWARD A. ROBINSON 

AND 

GEORGE A. WALL, 

Authors of "The Disk" etc. 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY JAMES FAG AN. 



NEW YORK: 

ROBERT BONNER'S SONS, 

1894. 



CopYEiaur, 1894. 
BY ROBERT BONNER'S SONS 



(All rights reserved.) 



I SEE the cloud of battle and the flame. 
I hear the cannon roar, the crackling note 
Of rifles and the clash of angry steel. 
My pulses quicken and my brain is wild 
With frenzied shouts and yells of men in strife. 
There father, son and brother fearless stand 
For all men hold most dear. 

There, right and left, brave men are stricken down 
Beneath the banner that they love so well ! 
And all the while, pulsating with the shriek 
And hiss of shot and shell, with cries and groans 
Of wounded, dying men, the sulph'rous air 
Speaks to each sense, as if in thunder tones: 
The price of peace is blood. 










THE GUN-BEARER. 



PART L— PROLOGUE. 



"W 



CHAPTER I. 

AR ! Ledger ! Midnight edition ! Fort 
Sumter fired on !" was the cry which, at 
two o'clock on the morning of the 13th 
of April, 1 86 1, aroused the slumbering village in which 
I lived. It was a cry which stimulated and thrilled 
every fiber of my being, as I ran, splashing through 
mud, darkness and rain, toward the Waytown Arms, 
our village inn. 

I had recognized the hoarse, familiar voice shouting 
this stirring news as belonging to old Joe, the paper- 
carrier, and though I was but a boy, I knew the storm 
that had been threatening the safety of the Union had 
burst upon us. 

Joe was standing on the seat of a light wagon in the 
open roadway before the tavern. His vehicle was 
drawn by two small mules, whose sweating bodies 
threw up clouds of steam, which the lantern in the 

[ 7 ] 



8 THE GUN-BEARER. 

hands of the innkeeper scarcely penetrated, and in 
which old Joe's form towered black and gigantic. 

A surging crowd of hurriedly dressed men had al- 
ready gathered around the wagon, and I could see the 
gleam of papers as they were passed from hand to 
hand. 

Drawing near, I saw there was another person in 
the wagon who was distributing the papers — old Joe, 
maintaining his lofty position above the heads of the 
encircling crowd, and, whip in hand, as if impatient to 
be off, had but the one care on his mind, to rouse the 
heaviest sleeper in the village with this dreaded news. 

A moment before silence had reigned in the unsus- 
pecting security of our village, and I, too thoughtful 
for sleep, by reason of the excited talk which we boys, 
imitating our elders, had been indulging in at our sur- 
reptitious meeting that evening, was standing by the 
window of my room up under the roof, looking out 
into the darkness and listening abstractedly to the drip, 
drip of the rain from the eaves. Not a light was to 
be seen anywhere ; utter gloom and, save the noise of 
the rain, silence everywhere. 

After a while I fancied that the echo of another 
sound mingled with the patter of the water. It was 
like the blast of a horn. I opened the window, that I 
might hear better, and, listening with suspended breath, 
heard the sound again, this time more plainly. 

Toot ! Toot ! 

It was a horn, surely, but still far away. 

Later I could hear the muffled rumble of wheels and 
the thump of hoofs in the covered bridge at the north 
end of the village and, when that ceased, the rattle of 
wheels over stony ground and the sound of a hoarse 
voice shouting something. 

Others were waking in the village ; lights gleamed 

RBC 
NoU 



THE GUN-REARER. 9 

from many windows, and the heads of many people 
appeared, some with night-caps and some without. 
Meanwhile the noise of hoof-beats and the sound of 
wagon-wheels grew louder, the shouting more distinct, 
and, when the team turned the corner, came full and 
strong the cry of "War." 

I made a short cut to the ground by way of my win- 
dow, the porch underneath, and a drop from the edge 
of that to the soft lawn below, and in a very short 
space of time was, as you see me at the beginning of 
this story, splashing through the darkness and mud on 
my way to the inn, where I had rightly concluded Joe 
would rein up. 

By the time I arrived, however, the demand for 
papers had been satisfied, and old Joe, anxious that no 
one should get ahead of him in the village beyond 
cried : 

" Ready, boys ! G'lang !" 

Then letting the whip fall on the steaming mules, 
and with a final cry "War !" he went rattling and splash- 
ing away into the darkness. 

As Joe drove off, the crowd which he had called to- 
gether began to diminish, some going one way and 
some another, all anxious to know the particulars. 

Many of the villagers went into the tavern, whither 
I followed, but on presenting myself at the door of the 
bar-room, where they seemed to have assembled, ad- 
mittance was refused me. 

" The room is already too full," they said. 

On trying the office, I found gathered there several 
of the boys whom I had left only a little while before. 
They were all in one group at the end of the room, 
watching with a mixture of diffidence and curiosity a 
strange man who was reading one of Joe's papers by 
the light of the desk-lamp. 



10 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Curiosity at last getting the best of every other feel- 
ing, little Tommy Atkins ventured to break the silence 
and ask the stranger the meaning of all the excitement. 

" It means war, I suppose, boys," he said, in a kindly 
voice, looking toward us ; then, probably surmising 
that we were anxious to know all about it, he added : 
" but would you like to hear what the paper says ?" 

" Yes !" we cried, in chorus. 

"Very well ; you sit down, and I'll read." 

We scattered to seats, and the stranger, springing to 
a place on the desk, by which he had been standing, 
drew the lamp toward him, and holding the paper side- 
wise, so that the light would fall strong on the print, 
read: 

" 'Special Dispatch to the Ledger. 

" ' Charleston, S. C, April 12, 1861. — The rebels opened fire 
upon Fort Sumter at 4:30 this morning. The first shot was 
fired from Fort Moultrie. The iron-clad floating battery and 
the heavy batteries on Mt. Pleasant and Cummings Point im- 
mediately followed suit. The encircling guns poured such a 
storm of shot and shell upon the loyal fort that only the cannon 
in the casemates could be used,' " etc., etc. 

But everybody has read these first dispatches, and 
been as excited over them as we were. Our youthful 
spirits under the weird spell of the early morning 
hour could not be held entirely in check, even by the 
magnetic charm of the stranger's voice and manner or 
the strange news that he was reading, and broke 
through all restraint at times. We were enthusiastic 
partisans of the northern cause, and understood, in a 
youthful way, the nature of the crisis. Yet I am sure 
none of us really grasped the whole significance of this 
news. The novelty wore away somewhat, I confess for 
myself, as the stranger went on reading, and my atten- 
tion wandered occasionally to outside matters. 

I heard a wagon rattle up to the door, saw the post- 



THE GUN-BEARER. 11 

master come into the office, take his hat and coat from 
a peg, and go out again. He was evidently thinking 
deeply about something, for he took no notice of the 
stranger, who kept on reading, nor of us boys sitting 
around in silence. In a little while I heard the wagon 
rumble away. 

Again, the stranger had not long been reading be- 
fore Joe Bentley, the blacksmith's son, who was sitting 
astride a chair, with his elbows resting on the back, 
began fumbling about in his pockets. Bringing forth, 
at last, a short clay pipe, from which he carefully 
shook the ashes, he crowded down what tobacco there 
was in it, fished out a live coal from among the ashes 
in the big fireplace, and proceeded to light it in an ab- 
stracted sort of way. Then placing the pipe in one 
corner of his mouth, where neither it nor the smoke 
could interfere with his vision, he fixed his eyes un- 
waveringly on the stranger. 

Joe was the biggest and oldest one among us, and 
we always looked up to him a little on that account ; 
but now he seemed more than ever sedate and trust- 
worthy. 

War and the horrors prophesied by the paper 
might seem unreal and overdrawn to the rest of us, 
but Joe must realize them, I thought, as I watched him 
sitting there so stately and thoughtful with the stump 
of a pipe between his teeth. 

Tommy Atkins also seemed to realize something of 
the terrible news. He, too, seemed absorbed by it, and 
sat on the end of the newspaper-table, swinging his 
feet and twisting and untwisting his cap, from which 
he had long ago wrung out every drop of moisture, ut- 
terly unconscious of everything about him except the 
words of the stranger. 

During this time it was evident, from noises which 



12 THE GUN-REARER. 

came to us from the bar-room, that the older people 
there assembled were not without their excitement. 
First we would hear an indistinct roar, as if all were 
talking at once. Then came a more decided shout, 
with stamping of feet and thumping of chair-legs. 
After this a short silence, and then the indistinct tones 
of a single voice murmuring on, sometimes undisturbed, 
sometimes interrupted by applause, and in one or two 
cases completely overcome by noises of an opposite 
character, not quick and soon over, like applause, but 
slowly growing from a mere murmur persistently 
louder and louder until the one voice was swallowed 
up and lost. 

This effort to drown the speaker's voice occurred but 
twice. At the end of the second time I heard a scuf- 
fling of feet, a crash as of breaking furniture, followed 
by a loud, angry voice, shouting : " You lie ! Take 
that !" A pistol-shot added to the confusion, and as I 
heard some one cry out : " Murder !" the stranger 
jumped to the floor and darted through the doorway 
leading to the bar-room. 

Curiosity overcoming my judgment, I followed just 
far enough to see the cause of this disturbance, and 
there, close by the door, struggling in the grasp of two 
of the worst roughs that ever disgraced the quiet of a 
mill-village, was old white-haired Deacon Miller, his 
face streaked with blood, his coat torn to shreds, his 
hat off and a crowd of dazed and seemingly helpless 
men watching this unnatural combat, yet making no 
effort to offer the help that was needed. 

Pressing through the crowd, the stranger jumped 
like a tiger at the bully nearest him, and, with a well- 
directed blow, knocked him senseless. Before the other 
villain could appreciate the situation, he, too, received 
a well-merited punishment, and the deacon, faint with 



THE GUN- BEARER. 13 

exhaustion, would have fallen to the floor had not the 
stranger caught him in his arms. 

A murmur of approval went up from the crowd, and 
Billy Green, of the variety store, shouted : 

" Kick the rascals into the road ! Hang 'em to the 
sign-post !" 

"Silence !" thundered the stranger, in a commanding 
tone. "Can't you act like men? Landlord, get out 
your carriage and help me take the deacon to his 
house. And you, sir," addressing Billy Green, "get me 
a basin of water and a sponge." 

It was soon discovered that the Deacon had received 
only a slight flesh wound, and that, aside from the 
damage sustained by his clothing and the exhaustion 
resulting from rough handling, there was no serious 
damage done. 

After the carriage with the deacon, the stranger and 
the landlord had rolled away, the two miscreants, who 
by this time had gained their feet, muttered threats of 
dire vengeance upon the deacon. 

" You'd better let him alone," said Joe Bentley, who 
was standing behind me. " If he can't take care of 
himself, he's got a friend who can take of him." 

The roughs looked at Joe angrily an instant, then 
turned and left the tavern. 

" They 're a bad lot," said Dick Wentworth, the sta- 
tion-agent, as the door closed after them — " a bad lot 
and they ought to be watched. They're mean enough 
to do anything." 

" Who are they, anyhow ?" asked Billy Green, rather 
out of contempt than for information. 

" Jail-birds — a couple of jail-birds of the worst sort, 
just two weeks out of jails, where they've been board- 
ing for the past three years for setting fire to the dea- 
con's mill." 



14 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" They '11 get another three years if they don't make 
themselves scarce 'round these parts," said Billy. 

" Like enough — like enough," answered Wentworth, 
meditatively ; " but they'll be up to some deviltry before 
they go. You see if they don't." 

An hour was spent discussing the war-news, during 
which the situation was viewed from every stand- 
point. 

The village orator, Bert Smith, who, by the way, hap- 
pened to be town-crier, had a good deal to say about 
the Stars and Stripes, the scream of the eagle for 
liberty, and rounded out his speech with the solemnity 
of a prophet. 

" I see," he said, " this beautiful land of ours deluged 
with blood ; our sons slaughtered on our own hearth- 
stones ; ruin, wretchedness, tears, despair and death, 
everywhere." 

Just as he had finished the landlord returned, and, 
rushing into the room, shouted excitedly : 

"The rascals! What's become of them? Where 
are those brutes that struck the deacon ?" 

" Gone !" answered Billy Green. " They left just after 
you drove away." 

" Boys," replied the landlord, " there 's going to be 
trouble to-night, sure ; and those villains are going to 
make it." 

" What's the matter now?" asked Billy. 

" Matter enough. The stranger and I took the dea- 
con home, and were coming back through the woods. 
When we 'd got as far as Paddock's, I saw two men 
sneak in behind the big stone at the bound'ry line and 
crawl off into the darkness. The stranger also saw 
them, and said : ' Landlord, you 'd better turn and drive 
me back to Miller's house. Those imps mean mischief, 
and the old man may need help. I'll stop with him 



THE GUN-BEARER. 15 

to-night ?' So I drove back, left him, and he's there 
now." 

"What's that?" said Billy, from the west window. 
"The moon?" 

" Moon !" replied the landlord, going hastily to the 
window. " Moon don't rise in the west. My God, 
boys ! They 're at it ; they 've fired either the mill or the 
deacon's house. Come on ; help me out with the big 
wagon ; and you, Billy, run for the sexton, get the key 
to the church, and ring the bell, quickly ! Away with 
with you!" noticing a little hesitation. 

Willing hands helped the landlord get out the big 
wagon, to which were harnessed a fresh pair of horses, 
and into which sprang half a dozen men, eager to ren- 
der whatever assistance might be needed to save the 
mill, upon which so many of the townspeople depended 
for their daily bread. 

Just as the horses were put to a gallop toward the 
fire, the old church-bell rang out an alarm, which 
aroused every able-bodied man in the village. 

While I stood in the doorway, watching the teams 
disappear in the rain and haze which were reddened 
by the light of the distant fire, and was debating with 
myself whether or not I should run after the other 
boys, I distinctly heard the thump of a crutch on the 
floor behind me. There could be no mistake about 
this, and I at once became conscious that my father 
was near me, as he was the only man in the village 
who used a crutch. 

I was proud that I could show my father that his 
own interest in affairs of state, as well as of local im- 
portance, were finding a ready second in the ' person of 
his son ; but I was also aware of a little inward trem- 
bling for all that. 

My father was one of those men who could never be 



16 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



depended upon beforehand to look at anything in any- 
particular way. Of a very nervous temperament, and 
made irascible by chronic ailing- and loss of property, 
his views, I often thought, were colored by his feelings ; 
and as I was an only child, and babied, as the boys say, 
it occurred to me that he might think this a fitting op- 
portunity to reduce me to my proper place, as a person 
of no importance, and, more's the pity, I was right, for 
hardly had he caught sight of me when he cried : 

" You here ? This is no place for a boy on such a 
night as this. Go home !" 

Why didn't I run before I was discovered ! To say I 
was vexed would be putting it too mildly. It seemed to 
me that I was old enough to be allowed some rights, 
and had about determined to resist parental authority 
when my father took me by the shoulder, and pushing 
me, said : 

" March !" 

I went, and felt then as I have felt since, my body 
move forward, though my spirit rebelled and bade me 
stay. 




CHAPTER II. 

When I again came out of the house, although the 
morning sun was high in the heavens, I noticed that 
the village was unusually quiet. Everybody seemed 
to be asleep ; but, without pausing to wonder at the 
unwonted stillness that reigned all around, I went to 
the barn and began work on the horses, finishing with 
my mare ; for I liked to spend all extra time on her. 

In the next house to ours lived Mrs. Atkins, Tommy's 
mother. Mr. Atkins had died in debt, father said. 
Consequently, Tommy's mother was compelled to de- 
pend upon her own exertions for a living, and called 
upon Tommy to add to the family treasury all he could 
earn by driving the grocer's wagon, and doing any other 
light jobs that came in his way. 

Out on all occasions and in all kinds of weather, Tom- 
my improved a happy faculty for picking up little bits of 
news, to which his ingenuity and imagination added 
many interesting details, and therefore, though the 
youngest boy among us, he was generally the best in- 
formed as to whatever was of current interest. 

But he was a little too conscious of this superiority, 
we sometimes thought. We did not like to have to 
listen to him always. 

Tommy's bedroom window was just opposite the 
doorway of our barn, and the noise I made over the 

[17] 



18 THE GUN-BEARER. 

horses, and the low whistle I kept up to drive the dust 
from my mouth must have aroused him, as he appeared 
suddenly at the stable-door. 

" Hello, Tommy," I cried, on seeing him. 

" Hello yerself. I say, Dan, 'twas too bad yer had to 
go home. Yer missed all the fun." 

" Did you see it all ?" 

"Did I see it? Wa'n't I out all night?" Tom, in- 
deed, did look as though he had been out, as he said : 
" Gosh ! wa'n't it lively, though ?" 

" Well, what was it burnt ?" I asked. 

But Tommy was not going to tell the whole secret 
or any part of it in a hurry, so he passed over my ques- 
tion as though he had not heard it. 

"D'yer s'pose I 'd gone home, 'nd left a big red sky 
like that? Not much! It beat all the Fourth-of-July 
fireworks you ever saw, all holler." 

I was breathless with impatience to hear about it, 
but saw Tommy had made up his mind to tantalize 
me, and at the same time show me how much more 
independent he was than I. It would not do to allow 
that ; besides, I knew that if let alone he would give me 
the whole story in time. I said nothing, therefore, but 
applied myself more closely to my work. I was rub- 
bing down the mare's hind legs at the time. This gave 
me a chance, as I bent over, to watch Tommy under 
my arm, and by saying "Whoa!" now and then I 
seemed to acquire independence and carelessness, as 
it were. 

Tommy at first seemed disturbed, because I did not 
show more enthusiasm, and I became almost afraid 
that he was going to disappoint me, and go away with- 
out giving me the news ; but the desire to air some of 
his knowledge conquered all other inclinations, and, 
taking up a position on the mealchest, he began : 



THE GUN-BEARER. 19 

" Yer know the stranger who read to us. Yer remer- 
ber him, don't yer?" 

Of course I remembered him. Was not his face, with 
its black hair and glittering black eyes, the clearest 
thing in my mind of all last night's excitement ? But 
I simply said : 

"Yes." 

"Well, he's a brick." Tommy shut his teeth, 
winked his eyes, and shook his head convincingly. 
" You know, of course, 'bout his killing the rough ?" 

I was startled from my forced calm, and straighten- 
ing up stared over the mare's back at Tommy sitting 
on the chest. Tommy saw his advantage and sneered. 

" Don't even know that, hey?" I went back to work 
in a hurry. "Yer a pretty feller to be 'round when 
there 's anything goin' on." 

" Whoa ! Stand still, can't you ?" said I to the mare. 

" Well, " said Tommy, with a gleam of satisfaction in 
his eyes, " when we left the tavern the landlord whipped 
up his horses, and away we went in fine shape, I tell 
yer." 

" But you weren't in the wagon, were you ?" I asked, 
remembering distinctly that when the wagon started 
Tommy and the other boys were afoot. 

" No ; but they hadn 't reached the corner before I 
was with them." 

" I suppose they needed you," said I, determined to 
get a fling at Tommy. 

" Of course," answered Tommy indifferently, as if 
that were a matter about which there ought to be but 
one opinion, and that further remarks on that subject 
were unnecessary. " But don't bother me, Dan, if you 
want to hear what happened." 

'• Go on, then !" I muttered. 

" Well, 's I was sayin', we went off in fine shape. We 



20 THE GUN-BEARER. 

picked up some of the mill overseers on the way, and 
by the time we got clear of the town we had a dozen 
men in the wagon. My, but it was dark and drizzly 
when we got into the woods ! Just after we got through 
them, and came out at the top of the hill, we could see 
the blaze over the tops of the trees that stood between 
us and the mill. One of the overseers said : ' It 's the 
mill, boys, sure enough !' " 

" ' The rascals !' said the landlord, sharp and angry 
like. ' Keep a sharp eye along the roadside, boys, for 
two of the meanest skunks that ever went unhung. 
Don't let 'em get away. It '11 be some satisfaction in 
running those fellows in.' " 

" ' Better hang 'em,' said Billy, 'and run 'em in after- 
ward.' 

" A little turn in the road as you reach the mansur 
house brought us into a full view of the fire, which 
proved to be " — here Tommy began to mount his high 
horse again — " but what are you looking at me in that 
way for, with your mouth wide open, and your eyes 
fairly sticking out of your head ?" 

"Stand still there," I cried to the mare. I had to say 
something to cover my excitement. 

Tommy waited an instant, just to bother me, and then 
said : 

" Well, it was the—" 

" Whoa ! Be quiet !" I shouted to the mare, as 
Tommy again paused, with a smile at my eagerness to 
catch every word. 

" The barn. The mill was all right, but the deacon's 
house was in danger. The barn is close to the house, 
yer know, and well filled with hay. It made a mighty 
hot fire. We could hear it roar as the big waves of 
flame, all edged with a fringe of sparks and smoke, rose 
high into the air." 



THE GUN-BEARER. 21 

I had now stopped work and was standing, curry- 
comb and brush in hand, staring at Tommy. Tommy, 
warming to the subject, for the moment forgot his 
superiority, and, not noticing my attitude, continued 
rapidly : 

" When we turned into the mill road we heard a 
couple of explosions. Some of the men said 't was 
powder in the barn ; others said 't was more like the 
crack of a rifle. When we reached the house we saw 
the stranger, the deacon and a couple of his men 
throwin' water on blankets hung on the side of the 
house nearest the barn. Edith and the servant girl 
were there, helpin' carry water from the well to the 
house. 

" Our comin' was a lucky job for them, for they were 
all tuckered out. In a few minutes the old hand-engine 
arrived, the suction-pipe was lowered into the well, the 
breaks were manned, and when the leadin' hosemen got 
a stream on the fire they began to get the best of it. 

" By George," said Tommy, as the whole scene 
seemed to come into his mind, " what a sight that was 
and how we all shouted when the flames died down and 
we knew the house was saved ! 

" After the fire was all out the deacon opened a barrel 
of cider and everybody drank his fill." 

" Did they get the horses out ?" 

" Yes, got 'em all out. Ah, I thought there was some- 
thin' else. The explosions we heard " — here Tommy 
looked at me, as if meditating another triumph. 

But I was ready for him, and had resumed work on 
the mare. 

" The explosions were caused by the stranger's firin' 
at the two roughs who attacked the deacon at the 
tavern." 

" Did he hit them ?" 



22 THE GUN-BEARER. 

"You bet he did," replied Tommy. " He killed one 
of 'em stone dead, and he hurt the other so he couldn't 
get away, and we brought him back with us." 

" What were they trying to do ?" 

" Set fire to the house, of course. They 'd piled a lot 
of straw against the rear of the house, and with a card 
of lighted matches were goin' to set fire to it when the 
stranger, who 'd been watchin' 'em and was all ready, 
up and fired. The ball passed right through the neck 
of one feller and broke his spine, so he died at once. 
The other one was hit in the leg and fell, so they cap- 
tured him. He 's an ugly feller, that rough ; but they '11 
fix him now." 

Just here Mrs. Atkins called : " Tommy !" Tommy 
heard her and said : 

"But perhaps you haven't been interested in what 
I 've been tellin*. Look at yourself." 

I did not look at myself, and I did not want Tommy 
to go away without telling me the rest, for I was inter- 
ested to know if there was anything more, so I said : 

" Anything else happen ?" 

" Can't stop any longer. There 's mother callin' and 
I 'm late to work as 't is." 

Tommy sprang down from the chest and started 
home on the run ; but as he was passing out of the door 
an idea seized him and, catching hold of the door-post 
with one hand, he swung the upper part of his body into 
the barn. 

" Say ! Come round to the store this afternoon, and 
if I 'm there I '11 tell you the rest." 

He winked one eye at me and grinned. I let the 
currycomb fly at him, but he dodged it easily, disap- 
peared, and in a moment I heard his feet strike the 
ground on his side of the fence. 




CHAPTER III. 



" Daniel, come to breakfast !" 

It was my mother calling from the kitchen door. 

As I entered the house, mother, who was taking break- 
fast from the stove, turned to say : 

" Don't make any noise, Daniel. Father didn't sleep 
much last night, and he 's abed now." 

" Is he sick ?" I asked, knowing the contrary, but hop- 
ing she would tell me what I had failed to learn from 
Tommy. 

" No ; but news was brought last night that Fort 
Sumter had been fired upon. Deacon Miller's barn was 
also burned. There were great doings in the village 
last night." 

"I know that," I said, taking a seat at the table; 
" but what about the stranger and the man he killed ?" 

Mother was just stooping over the stove with a towel 
in her hand to open the oven door for the potatoes, but 
hearing my question, she straightened up and looked at 
me with astonishment. 

" Why, Daniel, this all happened in the night." 

She did not know that I had been out at all — a bit of 
evidence that father must have been thinking of some- 
thing else when he came in or he would have told her. 

" Who told you about it ?" 

[23] 



24 THE GUN-BEARER. 

"Tommy Atkins," I replied. "He came over this 
morning when I was cleaning the horses, and told me 
all about it ; besides, I was in the village part of the 
time, myself." 

" You were ? I did not hear you come in," she said, 
and bent over the stove again. Breakfast was soon 
upon the table, and by the time we began to eat, a door 
opened and father appeared. 

I expected to be scolded, and watched him from the 
corners of my eyes. He looked tired and cross, and 
the moment he noticed me he was evidently reminded 
of where he had found me last night. " Look here, 
young man," he said, harshly, " it is time for you to be 
in bed at two o'clock in the morning." 

" But, father " — I objected. 

" No ' but ' about it, sir. I don't, and what's more, I 
won't have any more of these goings-on." 

" He did not think you wouldn't like it," interposed 
mother. 

" Didn't think — he 'd no business to think. Why, I 
found him at the tavern wet through, just as the tavern 
keeper with his big wagon and half a dozen men were 
starting for the fire. A minute more and he 'd been off 
with them, as big as you please. Look here, young 
man " — father always began with this phrase when he 
wanted to reprove me — " you 've got to grow before 
you '11 be of much account." 

" Dan'l wanted to see what was going on, I suppose. 
You must remember, father, we were all children 
once." 

" That is all very true, but no excuse," and while he 
was saying this, he leaned his crutch against the wall 
and slowly lowered himself into his chair at the table. 
Hardly had he turned around and faced us, before the 
crutch fell with a crash to the floor, 



THE GUN-BEARER. 25 

He jumped in his chair as though a pistol had been 
fired, and turning, looked at the fallen crutch as if it 
had been a dog ready to bite him. This seemed so 
funny that I would have laughed, vexed as I was, if a 
scared, troubled look on mother's face had not stopped 
me ; the look made me realize that father's nerves were 
all unstrung with disease and trouble and sleeplessness, 
and that he was not himself. 

But the unfavorable view he had taken of my pres- 
ence in the tavern the night before and the way he had 
talked to me about it had driven all desire for news 
out of my mind, and turning my attention to the break- 
fast, I discovered I was quite hungry. 

Not so with my father ; nothing seemed to please him. 
The beef was too tough, the coffee too hot, or the 
potatoes too soggy. " Why can't we have as good beef 
here as in the city ?" was a standing question with 
him. 

He was never satisfied with the meat to be had, and 
every time he returned from his periodical trip to the 
city he had a great deal to say about it. Mother always 
bore all this complaining patiently. It must have hurt 
her feelings, yet she did not seem to mind it much, or 
else I did not see it. Her face in these years had 
always a careworn expression, and her eyes the same 
watchful look that was in them when I was recovering 
from the scarlet fever. 

Father finally pushed away his plate, remarking, as 
he did so : " Oh, I don't want anything. I 'm not 
hungry." Yet he had eaten half of what he had helped 
himself to. 

" I hope Deacon Miller feels well this morning ," he 
said, after a pause. 

" Why, he was not hurt much last night, was he ?" 
asked mother, a little anxiously. 



26 THE GUN-BEARER. 

I began to be interested again, but knew enough to 
keep quiet and let them talk, undisturbed. 

" Hurt, no ; but he 's lost a pretty figure by the fire ; 
and to a man who loves money as he does, it 's enough 
to make him sick. It's lucky for him the stranger 
happened around as he did ; he'd have lost his house, 
and the mill, too, for aught I know. Well, he's got 
money enough — he can stand it." 

" Yes, father ; but think of the people depending 
upon that mill for their bread and butter." 

" Of course, I 'd be sorry for the mill people," said 
father ; " but I haven't any sympathy for the deacon. 
He has none for me. He'll foreclose on this property 
the first chance he gets, and there 's no need of his 
being so grasping. His clerk told us yesterday that 
he 'd more orders on hand than he could fill for a 
month." 

Father waited for mother to speak, but she only 
looked worried, and said : 

" I am sorry for Mrs. Miller." 

" Sorry for Mrs. Miller ? Yes ; I suppose you are. 
That 's just like a woman. Do you suppose she 'd be 
sorry for you if the deacon foreclosed to-day ?" 

" Yes, I do," said mother, bravely. 

" Oh, you do ? Well, I don't. There 's no difference 
in them. They 're all in the same boat — deacon, wife, 
Edith and all — grasping, grasping, getting all they can 
out of everybody." 

"You ought not to be so hard on the deacon," said 
mother. " He loaned you money when you needed it, 
and it 's not his fault that you have been sick and that 
things have gone wrong with you. Don't fret, father ; 
things will come out all right when you get well. What 
started the row at the tavern ?" 

" Why, the deacon was talking about the war — what 



THE GUN-BEARER. 27 

secession meant, how the price of everything would go 
up, and how long it would be before manufacturers 
could pay any more for help than they were paying 
now. That was about all he had to say when one of 
the roughs jumped up and, running to the deacon, 
shaking his fist in his face, said : 

" ' I know you, Deacon Miller ! Yer a slick, palaverin', 
lazy aristercrat, too lazy to do anything yerself, an' too 
mean an' stingy to want an honest laborin' man paid 
full wages for an honest day's work. Yer always rob- 
bin' somebody an' tellin' 'em yer a frien', an' I tell yer 
yer lie !' 

" Just then he pulled a pistol from his pocket and 
pointed it at the deacon. Wentworth, who was stand- 
ing close by at the time, knocked the pistol up just as 
the fellow fired. Another rough — companion to the 
fellow who fired the pistol — jumped for Wentworth, 
and in a minute there was some pretty tall fighting. 
It didn't last long, for no sooner had some one 
shouted : ' Murder!' than the stranger rushed in like 
a mad bull and put an end to it all. The tavern-keeper 
told me after he came back from the fire this morning 
that the stranger killed one of these two men just as 
they were firing the deacon's house, and that he shot 
the other, wounding him so he was captured, and he 's 
now in the calaboose. But that don't matter much. 
Those fellows deserved putting out of the way, both of 
them. The thing we now have to face is war — a war 
that has come to stay until the cause has been washed 
out by blood. Civil war," said my father, dropping his 
voice to a meditative tone. " Civil war ; grim-visaged, 
fratricidal, terrible. But," turning suddenly to me, 
" aren't you going to do any work this morning ?" 

" The chores are done, the horses cleaned and the 
stable put to rights," said mother, interfering. 



28 THE GUN-HEARER. 

" It 's a wonder," said father, disappointedly. 

" You are not going to the mill to- day, are you, 
father ?" asked mother. " I wouldn't." 

" I don't believe I will. But that grain must go up 
the river to-day. That must be done. Here, Daniel, 
you take the double team and carry it yourself. Be 
sure that Granger gives you a receipt for the right 
weight. There's more than I usually carry in. Tell 
him there '11 be less next week." 

" All right," I said, and left the room ; but he could 
not let me go without a parting shot, and shouted 
after me : 

" Look here, young man, I don't want any mistake 
about this. It must go to-day." 

I hurried off. I could see before me a pleasant drive, 

and a chance to hear what the people thought of the 

war. 

******* 

It had come. That crisis which the wise had fore- 
told, and which the thoughtful, earnest few looked for- 
ward to as a means to the end they desired ; that reality 
which the great body of conservative, well-fed, unsus- 
pecting populace had pooh-poohed at, and refused to 
believed in, had come at last. War, with all its hor- 
rors, was at the door. 

The little fleecy cloud that had crept up above the 
nation's horizon, unperceived by any one but the most 
weather-wise, had suddenly taken on enormous pro- 
portions, and become terribly visible to all. Broad, 
black and ominous, it covered the whole heavens, preg- 
nant with rain and hail, hiding, in its shadow, de- 
structive winds. 

I, as a boy, lying at ease upon a wagon-load of grain, 
as my two horses plodded slowly along the river bank 
that pleasant spring morning, felt something of the 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



29 



excitement in my blood, looked at the approaching 
tempest with steady, curious eyes, and waited some- 
what impatientty, not knowing the frightful power be- 
hind it, for the first tangible signs that it was a re- 
ality ; a fearful fact and no empty though exciting 
dream. 




PART IT. 



CHAPTER I. 



Three years have passed since first the country 
responded to the call to arms ; three years since first 
was raised the cry of " On to Richmond ;" since the 
setting in of that tide of war, which has ebbed and 
flowed along the coast and rivers of the South and 
among her mountains, on the plains and valleys of the 
Mississippi, of Tennessee and of Virginia ; which has 
broken over Maryland into Pennsylvania and rolled 
along northward until it threatened to submerge 
Washington and Baltimore ; three years of fatiguing 
toilsome march ; of camp, of bivouac and of battle. 
Hundred of thousands of brave men have bared their 
breasts as a bulwark for the cause they loved. Tens of 
thousands have been swept resistlessly onward to die 
upon the field of battle, to languish in some gloomy, 
far-off hospital or pestilential prison pen. Again and 
again have the voice and bloody arms of war been 
raised for men, more men. 

The lines are more contracted, but the battle cloud 
that has hung so long in the southern horizon has not 
yet lifted ; the smoke and gleam from a country 
ravaged and burning has not yet faded away ; there is 
no near prospect of peace from the shock of battle. 
[30] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 31 

The North is determined, strong ; the South is de- 
fiant, desperate. 

Three years next month old Joe refused Way town 
with the cry of "War." Since then how changed the 
village grew. So changed and strange I did not care 
to stay there. 

Seventy-five thousand men were called for, and my 
comrades, all who could, enlisted. Almost everybody 
said : " Pshaw ! the war will soon be over ;" but when we 
received the report of the attack upon the Sixth Massa- 
chusetts regiment in Baltimore, and soon afterward 
news of the fight at Bull Run, our people began to 
realize that war was really at the door, and that, per- 
haps, it would be long and bloody. 

In a few days a pine box, large enough to hold a man, 
came in on the train. 

The whole village knew it almost instantly. 

" Who is it ?" somebody whispers. 

" Mike Clancy, one of the volunteers from Miller's 
factory." 

Then a half dozen Irishmen called for the pine box 
and carried it away to the north end of the town. 

The next day a funeral, with many over-crowded 
wagons and raw-boned, knock-kneed horses crawled 
slowly down Main street out of the village to the 
Catholic graveyard on the hill. 

No one thought of the shabby, strung-out pomp. It 
was a soldier's funeral, the first offering of our village 
on the country's altar. 

A cheap cotton, star-spangled banner gleamed through 
the glass sides of the hearse. 

Children, barefooted and bareheaded, stood by the 
gateways or climbed the road-side fence to watch with 
wide-open, calm but wondering eyes the sad procession. 
The busy housewife forgot for a moment her morning 



32 THE GUN-BEARER. 

cares and from her windows watched it crawling by. 
She saw it climb the hill, pass through the graveyard 
gate, and turned away with apron to her eyes. Farmers 
suspended work, and with rake or hoe in hand watched 
it in silence out of sight. 

Months passed, and the people grew silent, anxious 
and impatient. Newspapers were eagerly scanned and 
passed from hand to hand. 

The Ball's Bluff battle was reported. 

Many faces in Waytown turned pale, for " our boys " 
were there. And in the next few days, " He is dead," 
" He is wounded," " He, too, is dead," were the sad 
whispers which passed from mouth to mouth. Billy 
Green and Baker, the sadler, were shot there, and Joe 
Bentley, the big-hearted, big-bodied blacksmith's son, 
was wounded. 

These dead were not sent home, and all that the 
fathers and mothers could say to inquiring friends was 
that their comrades have written us how Billy stood 
to the first shock like a man ; how, almost immediately 
after it, he was seen to drop, never to rise again ; how, 
near the end of the fight, Baker was seen standing with 
the rest, waiting for the charge, with blood running 
from his cheek and from his shoulder, two places where 
bullets had hit him ; and how, after the charge, when 
the rebels had fled and the smoke had lifted a little, he 
was found, dead. This was all they knew, all we could 
learn of the men of our village sent out to the war. Two, 
at least, Baker and little Billy, would never return. 

Thus the war became a more personal matter while 
such news was going the rounds — a struggle not to be 
fought out by strangers and to end soon in hurrahs and 
holidays, but a reckless, hand-to-hand conflict, which 
threatened to draw every one, man, woman and child, 
in some way into the vortex of strife. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 33 

From the faces of the men around me I saw hope 
fading, to give place to a settled, anxious but determined 
look, while the cheeks of anxious women, of widows 
and of fatherless children, were pale and tear-stained. 

After months more of waiting Joe Bentley came 
limping home, pale and weak, having been for a long 
time in the hospital, recovering from an amputa- 
tion. 

Old man Bentley had mounted his big horse long ago 
and ridden off to the South, and now, at long intervals, 
his daughter — for he had no wife — would get letters 
from him, saying that he was making a dash into the 
enemy's country or quietly shoeing horses. 

With Joe and his father both away, the blacksmith's 
shop had been left to itself. Across the dingy win- 
dows spiders had spun their dusty webs undisturbed ; 
the big loose- jointed double doors, which Mr. Bentley 
had swung groaning to, on the day he rode away, were 
now as he had left them, closed and barred, and through 
the many cracks and crevices in them you could see, in 
the dim twilight which reigned there, no matter how 
bright the sunlight might be outside, the forge, grim, 
dirty and cold ; the big bellows, collapsed and gray 
with dust ; the noisy hammer, now lying silent, across 
the anvil where the blacksmith had left it. 

Nor was the appearance of the adjoining house, 
where the daughter and her aunt lived awaiting the 
return of father and brother, scarcely less gloomy, with 
its green blinds carefully closed, and the sparkling 
whiteness of its walls staring out cold and lifeless 
from the shadow of the waving trees above. 

When Joe appeared in Waytown he seemed to have 
grown suddenly much older, and his face, though tired 
and worn, looked nobler and wiser. The village folk 
would never have grown tired of asking him questions 



34 THE GUN-BEARER. 

if he had cared to answer, but he had no stories to tell 
them. 

I remember that Parson Slim once asked him what 
he thought of the war. 

" Parson," said Joe, harshly, with no reverence in his 
voice, and pointing to his stump of a leg, " it is a hard 
fact," and he turned and limped away. 

Joe soon got strong again, and the forge was no 
longer deserted. The big double doors were thrown 
wide open, letting in the daylight ; the bellows groaned 
and wheezed ; a bed of live coals sparkled and glowed 
in the center of the forge so lately cold and grim ; 
sparks flew out from the red-hot iron, and once more 
the sharp ring of the anvil, under the heavy blows cf 
Joe's hammer, sounded along the quiet street. 

Tommy Atkins and I were the only boys of our 
crowd left. Perhaps Joe felt more friendly to us be- 
cause we had been so much together before the begin- 
ning of the war. At any rate, however silent he was 
with others regarding the scenes he had taken part in, 
he seemed quite willing to tell us about them when 
there were no others about. 

Often in the long dark winter twilight, when his 
work was done we three met by the side of the forge, 
and he told us of war and its horrors. As the twilight 
deepened and the night closed in, war seemed to over- 
shadow us also ; and while Joe went on, I could hear 
the drums and the trumpets. I saw woods sparkling 
with the flash of rifles, and with clouds of smoke drift- 
ing off through the trees. I saw the grassy plain 
strewn with the dead and wounded and the earth red 
with blood. 

Did I fear war ? Was I afraid to go ? I think not ; 
but I did see more clearly, and began to realize the hard 
fact that the highway to a soldier's glory leads through 



THE GUN-BEARER. '65 

the valley of the shadow of death. Thus the first flush 
of enthusiasm left me, and I began to look on war as a 
business, for I was still resolved to go, if, when I grew 
old enough to enlist, the fight was still on, resolved that 
no one should point a finger at me, when the struggle 
was over, and ask, " And where were you all this 
time — you who had the opportunity ? Why didn't you 
go?" 

But my father would not hear of my going. War 
was banished from all conversation at home, and I was 
forced to wait in silence, with the echoes of battle shouts 
and of rattling drums ringing in my ears. 

But the excitement of those times, so powerful over 
every one, combined with Deacon Miller's foreclosing the 
mortgage he held on our property, affected my father's 
health very sadly. He became quite ill and took to his 
bed. We could see that he was failing day by day ; 
doctors and nursing were of no avail, and we, mother 
and I, were forced to watch his decline, helpless, until, 
at the end of March, about a year after the firing on 
Fort Sumter, he passed away. 

A sad time that was for uz. the spring of 1862. Many 
and heavy were the cares that were thrust upon my 
young shoulders, under the ever increasing burden of 
which I must struggle on for the rest of my days, but 
in those stirring times no one could remain long a boy. 

By the end of September, 1863, our affairs in Way- 
town having been settled, and with barely enough to 
meet the expense, we were ready to leave for Kentucky, 
where mother intended to live with her sister. The 
war was still going on, and I was old enough to enlist. 
How eagerly I longed for the departure ! 



CHAPTER II. 

We arrived at my uncle's place in Kentucky after a 
tedious trip in the cars. Delay, delay at every turn, 
especially when we came near our destination, explain- 
able only from the tumultuous nature of the times and 
the moving - across our way of troops and provision 
trains. 

We were getting into the domain of war, and as its 
spirit took possession of me the sorrows of my private 
life faded away. 

Mr. Nichols — my uncle's — family consisted of himself 
and wife, both much older than my mother, and an 
adopted daughter, Mary. There were two sons, Charlie 
and Fred, each of whom had shouldered his musket and 
departed at the beginning of the war, and neither had, 
as yet, returned. From the last of Fred's letters, which 
came at rare intervals, they judged that he was, about 
the time mother and I arrived at his home, somewhere 
in Eastern Kentucky or Tennessee. Of Charlie, the 
elder, they had heard almost nothing since the first year 
of the war. He disappeared in a battle, and all search 
for him having been given up for a long time, they 
came to think him as dead. Judge of their surprise, 
however, when a half-demented tramp, wandering aim- 
lessly through the village, brought word that Charlie 
[36] ^ 



THE GUN-BEARER. 37 

was a prisoner. As may be imagined, much of the 
time after my arrival was spent in trying to devise 
some means of determining Charlie's whereabouts, so 
that they might get word to him in case he was suffer- 
ing, and do all they could to relieve him. This did not 
prove to be an easy matter, and they finally concluded 
to wait until Fred came home, as his three years of ser- 
vice had about expired. We were, therefore, looking 
impatiently forward to his return, as he would be likely 
to know, better than any one, how to go to work to find 
his brother. In the meantime, I was making prepara- 
tions in secret for entering the service, and cogitating 
the best way to do so. 

But while waiting for the time to come when I should 
be ready to depart, I could not help feeling that this 
going away would not be the easy matter I had once 
thought it. 

How could I say good-by to the good, kind mother 
with the tears in her eyes that I knew would come, and 
how could I bring myself to turn my back on this pleas- 
ant, hospitable home ? How would I feel when, taking 
Mary by the hand and looking into her eyes, I should 
try to say good-by, knowing that it might be good-by 
forever ? The more I thought of it the more difficult 
did it appear, until I became at last disgusted with my- 
self. I was thinking too much of Mary's handsome face 
and her sweet voice. 

In the early morning, when the sun was bright and 
everything was glaring and unromantic, I suffered 
from the consciousness of having been a fool the day 
before, and determined to be one no longer. I decided 
that I would attend to business for that day at least. 

After breakfast I strolled down the street and watched 
the long trains bearing soldiers and supplies to the front. 
At noon I returned for luncheon, and after it strolled 



38 THE GUN-BEARER. 

up to Fred's room with my pipe, for I was a smoker 
now. Mary would, of course, appear there ; but how 
could I help it, I asked myself. I was not obliged to 
shun her ; besides, her presence was very agreeable to 
me. She generally brought some of Fred's letters. 
and the two or three that Charlie had sent home, and 
we read them there together, she explaining what the 
letters left unsaid, and telling me about the country, 
for she had been through and was familiar with that 
section ; and so, however strong my determination had 
been in the morning, by dinner time, which came on 
the edge of evening, I was as much under her control 
as ever, and when we went for a walk afterward 
my hopes and plans were almost forgotten, and I re- 
membered only at long intervals that over there beyond 
the moonlit hills were fire and smoke and blood and duty. 

I went to bed to dream of her, and awoke next morn- 
ing to the same round of savage resolution, battle and 
defeat. 

At length Fred arrived, travel-stained, sun-tanned 
and hungry. But what stories he had to tell — stories 
to make us laugh, stories to make us weep and stories 
that made the blood tingle in my veins ! I could see 
how proud the father was of his son, and the mother 
too, despite her tears ; and Mary — what would I not 
have given to bring for myself such a look of interest 
into her dear face. 

One morning, soon after Fred's arrival, I found him 
in the barn, enjoying a quiet smoke. 

"Well, Fred, what are you going to do?" I asked, 
striking a match on a post to light my pipe. 

" I 'm going back ; I don't feel at home here, and so 
much going on down yonder." 

" Why, I thought your time was up ? Are you going 
to re-enlist ?" 



THE GUN-BEARER. 39 

" I have already re-enlisted," he replied. " You see, 
most of our fellows were awfully tired of tramping. 
We had been at it three years pretty steady, so when 
they asked us to veteranize, we said we would, if they 
would agree to give us horses, make us cavalry, or 
mounted infantry." 

"Are they going to ?" I asked. 

" I don't know about that. They promised to, so we 
veteranized ; that is, re-enlisted." 

" Then it is all settled. You are going back ?" 

" Yes," said Fred. " This is only a furlough of thirty 
days. They don't know it in there," motioning toward 
the house, " and how I am going to tell them without 
having a scene I hardly know. 'T was a terrible scene 
indeed when Charlie and I went off. I don't want to go 
through it again." 

" Well, what am I going to do ? I 'm going into this 
thing." 

Fred looked at me, his mouth opening in^surprise. 

"Why — what — you are too young !" 

" That 's all right. I 'm not too young. I 'm big 
enough, and it 's no use to say no. My mind is made up." 

" Now, don't be in a hurry, Dan," said Fred, looking 
serious. " This a bad business." 

" That 's all very true ; but what am I to do ? You 
know as well as I that there are younger fellows in the 
army." 

Fred nodded assent. 

" Then that is no reason why they wouldn't take me. 
I want to go — have been wanting to go ever since the 
war began, but I could never get the chance. Now 
mother 's with her friends, I 'm going to skip, if I have 
to do it when they are not looking." 

" Better not do that. They '11 let you go if you stick 
to it. After all, if you 've made up your mind, it would 



40 THE GUN-BEARER. 

be best to let you go. They '11 see it in that light, only 
there'll be the usual amount of crying." 

" I suppose there will ; but it can't be helped." 

" But think a moment, Dan ; there are many sides to 
this thing. A bullet through your lungs or liver or 
heart or your head torn open with a shell, isn't the 
worst of it. Camp life isn't all that it 's cracked up to 
be. And then the endless tramps !" 

I shuddered, but did not waver. 

" But you say you are to have horses. Why couldn't 
I go with you ? Wouldn't they take me ?" 

" Why, yes, and it 's a good regiment to join, but it 's 
not so sure that we are to have horses. They said so, 
and there '11 be a row if we don't ; but we may not get 
them, after all. But if we do, there 's the camp and 
the mud and wet and disease and wounds and prisons. 
There 's much to be thought of." 

" And I 've thought of it. Why did your regiment 
go in, if they once got out of it ? For the thirteen dollars 
a month ?" 

Fred scratched his head and answered : 

" It 's hard telling what most of us joined again for. 
I suppose most of us couldn't stay away if we tried. 
The thirteen dollars had mighty little to do with it. A 
fellow don't stand up to be shot at for thirteen dollars 
a month, if that 's the end of it." 

"But somebody must have found a reason. What 
did they say ?" I asked, pressing the point. 

" Most of 'em said they were not going to quit now ; 
they would see it through. One man, when asked if 
he was going to put his name down, said : ' Yes, if I 
was out, I couldn't stay out while this thing is going 
on.' One fellow, who lost his two brothers on picket 
at Stone River, said : ' I owe the Johnnies something, 
and I'm going to stay to pay it.' One man came out of 



THE GUN-BEARER. 41 

the hospital and put his name down. I heard another 
man say he re-enlisted because the others did ; but 
perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all was that made 
by Eli Norcross. His mother is old and feeble in 
health; his wife and children poor, and looking with 
hope and longing for his return to their midst. 
The boys all watched him as he came forward ; with 
the perspiration starting from his face. His hand 
trembled a little as he leaned over the roll, but he 
signed." 

" These fellows know all there is in it ; they don't 
hesitate. I want my share. Now don't try to persuade 
me not to go," I said, noting Fred was about to speak ; 
" my mind is made up to that ; but help me to go away 
easily." 

"All right, I will, Dan. After all, you wouldn't be 
much of a chap if you did not want to go. I was not 
as old as you when I went. Now, what do you know 
about handling a gun ?" 

'* O, I know a little. There were few boys East who 
could not go through the manual of arms with a broom, 
and I learned it with the rest." 

" That 's good, you 've got the motions, eh ? Well, 
now, I will get a musket somewhere and help you a 
little, for even if we have horses, it won't hurt you to 
know how to handle a gun; and if we 're made cavalry, 
we 've all to learn to drill." 

We kept silence about our plans and went to work. 
A musket was obtained and kept hidden in the barn, 
except in the morning when no one was around. Then 
it made its appearance, and I went through the drill at 
the bidding of Fred. He seemed to take delight in 
teaching me ; whether his mind was on such things, and 
this gave him an opportunity to relieve his pent-up 
feelings, or whether he tortured himself for my benefit, 



42 THE GUN-BEARER. 

I do not know. At any rate, in a very short time 1 
grew accustomed to handling the gun. 

Meanwhile, all knowledge of our doings was kept a 
profound secret. We were going to put off telling the 
folks until two or three days before the time should 
come for us to leave, as we did not wish the time for 
grief and tears spread out any more than was necesary. 

I had been going through this exercise daily more 
than a week, when one morning, while we were hard at 
it, and more than ever oblivious to everything else, 
something was wanted of Fred at the house and he 
was called for. As no answer came to repeated calls, it 
occurred to Mary that she had seen him strolling to- 
ward the barn a short time before, and starting out to 
find him, caught us at work. 

I was not quite as quick as usual ; at any rate Fred 
found fault at the slow time I made loading the gun. 

He was saying : " That 's too slow," taking the gun. 
" It goes to count like this — one, two, three, four," 
speaking quickly. " So now, then," handing it back to 
me, "try it again." 

As he stepped back to give me room I saw Mary 
standing in the doorway behind him. The light was at 
her back, so that I could not see her face. 

" Fred," she said, in a soft, sad voice, " mother wants 
you." 

I felt that she knew all. And when, after Fred left 
us, she came up to me, I could see that her face was 
pale, that her lips quivered and that tears were trem- 
bling on her eyelids. 

" You are going to the war," she said, laying her soft 
little hand on my arm. 

The blood rushed to my face, my heart seemed to 
come up into my throat, and for the first time I felt 
sorry for the step I was taking, realized what I was 



THE GUN-BEARER. 43 

breaking away from. But it was only for an instant, 
although it took all my strength away and forced me to 
sit down. Mary took a seat beside me. 

"And Fred is going, too," she sobbed, turning her 
face away. 

I took one of her hands and drew her a little toward 
me without her noticing it. My voice was scarcely 
steadier than hers when I began, although it grew 
stronger. 

" Yes, Mary, we are both going. Fred, although he 
did not tell you, re-enlisted before he left his regiment. 
He could not stay, and when he goes to join his regi- 
ment I 'm going with him." 

" And you would not tell us, Dan !" she said, reproach- 
fully. 

" It would have done no good. If we had, the fact 
would have spoiled Fred's furlough. We were going to 
keep quiet until two or three days before the time came 
for us to leave." 

Mary could not stop her tears. I was beside myself, 
not knowing how to comfort her. I felt as if I had done 
her an injury, drew her closer to me and tried my best 
to change the current of her thoughts. We began 
again to talk, and, once started, I could not stop until I 
had told her everything. Many things I said that I had 
never expected to say to her. 

The sun was shining brightly that pleasant day. The 
dry and withered grass seemed just beginning to turn 
green, I thought. The air, the sky, the distant woods 
and hills seemed just ready to burst into the beauties of 
spring. My own life seemed rather strange, as my eyes 
wandered from the quiet village outside to Mary's head 
with its sunny, waving hair, resting upon my shoulder. 
Yet I never wavered in my purpose to take my musket 
in hand and depart when the time should come. 



44 THE GUN-BEARER. 

In the sweet, sad days that followed Mary gave no 
sign to the others of what Fred and I had in view ; 
only her eyes were sometimes red in the morning, as if 
she had been crying, and once in a while I found her 
sitting silent, her hands, from which the work had 
fallen, folded in her lap, and her eyes dim and blank. 

But we were more together now than before. I did 
not try to avoid her any longer. There was a promise 
between us, that if I escaped the clutches of war I was 
to call for her. She would wait for me. 

So these little scenes of comedy and tragedy were 
enacted in and around that Kentucky home, and yet 
unnoticed ; hours of drill in the use of the gun in the 
morning ; long walks or drives with Mary in the after- 
noon when the weather was pleasant. 

But the time came when they had to be told — the 
fathers and mothers, I mean. Fred and I came off 
victorious from the struggle ; but let me pass over it 
in silence. 

Two days later came the hour of parting. It was a 
dark and dismal time, especially for me. Fred had 
been anxious for the time to come. True, he was leav- 
ing home, but he was going back to the camp of old 
companions, to scenes he had grown to love. I was 
going into a new country, to new scenes, regions of 
death and horror, leaving behind me home, pleasures, 
love — all for what? 

At that time I could find no answer to this question. 
But I would not turn back, and Fred and I departed, 
going south. 




CHAPTER III. 



About two o'clock in the afternoon of the following 
day we reached Lebanon, a large town at the terminus 
of the railway. The houses were old, dirty and dust- 
covered ; the streets were thick with a fine yellow dust 
which the feet of hundreds of mule teams and the 
wheels of army wagons were grinding still finer and 
throwing into the air until it was loaded with a yellow 
haze that filled the lungs and settled like a mantle upon 
everything. 

At the quartermaster's department we learned that a 
train was about to leave for our point of rendezvous on 
the Cumberland River. We started out to find the 
train, but it was almost sundown, and we were just 
about to give up the search when a voice from a pass- 
ing wagon hailed us : 

" Hi, Fred, hello there ! Whoa ! Where you going ? 
Here, this way !" 

Looking through the clouds of dust in the direction 
of the voice we saw a man standing on a wagon tongue, 
leaning over the back of a mule, and gesticulating 
frantically. 

" Come here !" said the voice through the dust. 

"Who is it, Fred," I asked. 

"It looks like Jack Maddox," answered Fred; "but 

[45] 



46 THE GUN-BEARER. 

he 's so thickly covered with this infernal dust that his 
own mother would not know him. Let's see," said he, 
walking toward him. 

1 followed and soon saw Fred grasp the fellow by the 
hand, and heard him say : 

•'Jack, I would not have known you for dirt." 

"Well, there's a heap of dirt here for sure, but it's 
better than mud. Goin' back to the company ?" 

" Yes. But what are you doing here, driving a team ? 
Haven't left the company, have you ?" 

" Yes. You see, Fred, the horses haven't come, and 
it didn't look to me as if they ever would. I 'm sick of 
tramping, so when this chance opened in the quarter- 
master's department I got the detail." 

"Like it?" Fred asked. 

" Like it ! Well, I don't like it so well as I should like 
to be with the boys if they were made mounted infantry. 
One horse is easier to take care of than half a dozen ugly 
mules. But things don't look first-rate for the horses, 
and I'm not goin' to take any chances ; 'sides, I get bet- 
ter feed where I am, sleep in the wagon, and don't have 
to tramp and carry everything on my back." 

" There is no doubt about our horses, is there ?" 

" They haven't come yet," and Jack shrugged his 
shoulders. 

" What do they say about it ?" Fred asked. 

" I heard one of the officers say t' other day that Gen- 
eral Potter had promised in writing that horses would 
be furnished and the regiment should be mounted." 

" There is no danger but what they '11 get 'em, Jack ; 
they would not get us in under promise of giving horses 
and then back out." 

" Well, I hope they will ; but I am trusting Jack Mad- 
dox, just now. But," he said, lowering his voice, and 
looking toward me, " who 's that with you ?" 






THE GUN-BEARER. 47 

" That 's my cousin. Here, Dan," said Fred, turning 
to me, " this is Jack Maddox. You remember I told 
you about him. He 's the fellow who did the good 
turn for me at Mill Springs. My cousin, Jack ; he's 
going to enlist in our company." 

" It 's a good company," said Jack, nodding his head, 
taking me by the hand and looking me over seriously. 
" There are no better men in a skirmish, and no better 
men in a fight than those men ; they hang together, 
somehow, better than most men, and you can't skeer 
'em a little bit." 

" Same officers ?" Fred asked. 

" Pretty much. Of course you know of the new 
captain. Hartee 's his name. Nobody knows anything 
about him, except he 's seen service. He 's a good 
talker, and if it hadn't been for him and the way he 
talked about the horses at Strawberry Plains, I don't 
believe so many of the men would have 'listed again. 
But come, if you 're goin' to camp right away you might 
as well get on and ride; it 's a heap easier, and it 's a 
right smart tramp to the river." 

We climbed to a seat beside the dusty, good-natured 
driver, and while Fred and he discussed the probabili- 
ties of the company being mounted, and all the little 
odds and ends of camp gossip he had picked up relating 
to the question, I lay back against a barrel and list- 
ened, with my eyes closed. 

Mile after mile of that dusty road we passed, nor did 
we stop until long after sundown, when he came to a 
halt by the side of a creek. Here we washed, built a 
fire, made coffee, and fried pieces of beef, which, with 
soft bread, completed our supper. Here also we slept, 
wrapped in blankets — thanks to Maddox — by the fire. 
Early the next morning, about daylight, after a hasty 
bath and breakfast, we were on the road again. 



48 THE GUN-REAREU. 

Up and down hill we went, with nothing- but the 
creaking of the wagon frame, groaning under its heavy 
load ; the rattle and clatter of camp kettles, frying- 
pans and buckets that were hung from beneath, the 
shout of the driver, the crack of his long whip, or an 
occasional remark from him or from Fred, to break the 
monotony of the ride. On we went through Liberty, 
Mount Gilead and Somerset, until, on the afternoon of 
the second day, we came in sight of the river where Jack 
Maddox, pointing to the side of a distant hill, said : 

"There 's camp." 

" What have they got, tents or log-houses ?" Fred 
asked. 

" Tents. We can see them a little further up on 
the road," Jack answered, and we relapsed into silence. 

Perhaps half a mile further, and we were at the top 
of the hill, from which we could look across the little 
valley to the camp. 

I saw that it was situated on the north side of the 
Cumberland River, on the hillside plateau above the 
road, and that it overlooked the river, valley and away 
to the hills and mountains beyond. 

I could make out lines and rows and squares of 
small tents, a group of larger tents, a flagstaff from 
which floated the Stars and Stripes ; while here and 
there the smoke from a burning camp-fire drifted lazily 
along on the still air. 

" So that 's camp, is it ?" said I, partly to myself, and 
yet loud enough for Fred to hear, who answered : 

"Yes, good place, isn't it !" he said, with a tone of 
approval in his voice. 

"It's out of the dust; that's one good thing about 
it," said I, " and has a good prospect over the surround- 
ing country." 

Then Fred and Jack compared its location with some 



THE GUN-BEARER. 49 

other place they had camped in, while I, partly listen- 
ing to them and partly wondering what my first duties 
would be, said nothing more. When we reached the foot 
of the hill leading up to the camp we left the wagon, to 
ascend on foot. 

At the top we paused to look over the scene, and I 
saw men moving about, building fires, carrying wood 
and water, cleaning guns, putting up tents, &c, &c. 

" You never saw a camp before, did you, Dan ?" Fred 
asked as we stood there. " When the regiment is full 
each company has fifty tents, divided into five rows, 
and, with the exception of a company street, sometimes 
twenty-five feet wide, a space of about six feet between 
them. The officers have their tents near their com- 
panies. Over there," said he, pointing to a row of larger 
tents at the further end of the line, "is the regimental 
headquarters. Just back of that, in that large tent, is 
the sutler, where we can buy condensed milk at fifty 
cents a can ; molasses cakes, not more than a mouthful, 
at thirty cents a dozen; canned meats, oysters, fish, 
preserves and jellies of all kinds ; even butter and fresh 
milk and extravagantly high-priced eggs, and not war- 
ranted good at that, are also sold there." 

" What is that vacant space over there ?" I asked, 
pointing to the open end of the plateau. 

" I suppose that will be used mostly for exercising us 
in horse-movements. But come, let 's go to the captain's 
tent and report. There you can sign the roll, and we 
can get orders for tents, blankets and so forth." 

We approached the camp, where Fred was pleasantly 
greeted by members of the different companies through 
which we passed. 

"Where's company D," he asked of a man who had 
been tightening up one corner of his tent, and was 
driving the pins into a new place. 



50 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Lower end of the line," the man replied. 

We soon came to the company, and after an intro- 
duction and a hearty shake of hands all around, we 
went to the captain's tent, where I discovered what 
was necessary to complete my formal joining of the 
company. 

I signed the roll, and as I made the last strokes to 
my name I happened to look over the heads of the 
officers sitting by the camp-table, to the back end of 
the tent, and there saw somebody just lifting up the 
flap, to come in. As he straightened up inside the tent, 
I recognized, much to my astonishment, the stranger 
of the Waytown Arms. But he gave no sign that 
recognition was mutual. No doubt the face of the 
boy who had listened to him reading the news of the 
war had long since passed from his mind. I, however, 
knew him at once, although he had grown older and 
bigger. He evidently did not notice me or the stare 
with which I honored him, for he turned to speak with 
some of the officers, and I, pulling myself together, fol- 
lowed Fred out of the tent. 

" Who is that man ?" I asked Fred, as we came out- 
side. 

"That's Captain Hartees, our captain," he replied 
carelessly. 

The conversation stopped here, and we followed the 
sergeant, who took us to the quartermaster, where I 
received a suit of army blue, overcoat and all — haver- 
sack, knapsack, canteen, rubber blanket, woolen blanket 
and half of a shelter-tent. Fred took the other half — a 
tin dipper that would hold at least a quart and a tin 
plate. 

At Fred's suggestion I had bought at Louisville a 
knife, fork and spoon that folded together completely. 
In addition to the other things I also received a gun, a 



THE GUN-BEARER. 51 

bayonet, a belt, bayonet-scabbard, and cartridge- 
box. 

With this load we followed the sergeant back to the 
company, where our position in line was pointed out, 
and I took my first lesson in tent-pitching. 

First we obtained, from the woods near by, two 
forked sticks for the two standards, and a straight stick 
to serve as a ridge-pole. The forked sticks were then 
driven into the ground, and the ridge-pole laid into the 
crotches of these uprights. The two tent halves were 
then buttoned together, thrown over the cross-poles, 
and the ends brought to the earth, where they were 
pinned tightly, forming a regular pitch roof. 

All around our tent, which was about six feet long, 
five feet wide, and just high enough in the center for 
one to sit down inside and not have his head touch the 
ridge-pole, we dug a deep ditch to receive and lead 
off the water in rainy weather. On the inside, close to 
where the cloth was pinned to the ground, we banked 
up the earth to further insure protection against water. 

From Jack Maddox we obtained all the hay we 
wanted. This we spread on the ground, under the 
tent, and covered with a rubber blanket. Our canvas 
home was hardly completed when some one said : 

" There goes the grub-call, boys. Better go up and 
get your coffee." 

"What, already?" said Fred. Then, turning to me : 
" Get your dipper and plate, Dan, and let 's go." 

With our new tin plates and dippers, Fred and I 
hastened to interview the cook. 

As we approached the fire, already surrounded by 
men drawing their rations, I saw a stalwart negro, on 
his knees, holding over a bed of red coals a frying-pan, 
the sizzling contents of which he was turning with a 
fork. The man was jet-black, apparently oblivious of 



52 THE GUN-BEARER. 

his surroundings, and was singing, in a low musical 
tone: 

" Nebber min' de wedder, so de win' don't blow; 
Nebber min' de wedder, so de win' don't blow; 
Nebber min' de wedder, so de win' don't blow; 
Don't yer bodder 'bout yer trouble till it comes." 

" Same old song, Lige," said Fred. 

The man grinned, rolled up his eyes, and nodded in 
assent ; then, starting quickly as he glanced at me, said : 

•' Golly ! Dat you, Maws' Dan ? I 's glad ter see yer. 
'Deed, I is." 

" How 's this, Dan?" said Fred. " Do you know black 
Lige ?" 

"No. I never saw him before." 

" What ! Don' yer know me, Maws' Dan ? I 's Lige — 
brack Lige, whose ole mamma used to tote yer in her 
arms when yer wus a pickerninny. Don' yer 'member 
her ?" 

" Mistake, Lige. I am Daniel Wright ; came from 
the North, where I was born." 

" Bawn in de Norf ? Wasn't raised 'round yuh ? Das 
jes like yer — foolin' ol' Lige." 

" No, Lige ; I 'm not fooling." 

" Well, I thought yer was my ol' maw 's boy ; yer 

does look pow'ful like him for sho." Then turning his 

attention to the frying-pan, he added : " But I s'pose 

yer wouldn't be 'round yuh, do ; yer wouldn't be 'round 

yuh ?" Saying which, and as if dismissing the subject, 

he sang : 

"Nebber min' de wedder, so de win' don't blow; 
Don' yer bodder 'bout yer trouble till it comes." 

" I say, Lige," said Fred, after a while, " sing the other 
one. I want Dan to hear it." 

" Long 's Maws' Dan done born in he Norf," said 
Lige, after a moment of hesitation and with a quizzical 




GOLLY! uat yiii', jiaks' dan ."'—.See Page 52. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 53 

look at me, " I 's bound ter sing it. But dat 's more 'n 
a song, Maws' Fred ; mor 'n a song." 

Taking from the fire the pan he had been tending he 
stood erect and fixed his eyes steadily on mine. His 
gaze was sharply questioning, almost fierce at first, but 
soon turned into a vacant, far-off stare, broken at length 
by a sudden flash of expression, when, throwing back 
his head and fixing his eyes on the sky, he broke forth 
into a strain so abrupt, impassioned and of an energy 
so wild that it seemed inspired by a soul too large for 
mortal form. It was not Black Lige's voice we heard, 
but the voice of his people, the cry of an oppressed 
race, struggling, striking and dying for liberty. It 
rang out in trumpet tones, drawing and thrilling the 
entranced listeners, who came softly stealing up from 
all directions. 

As the chant moved to a close the voice swelled with 
the waxing theme, and Lige stood like one turned to 
stone ; then, as tears started from his eyes, the tones 
became more tender and subdued, dying away at length 
in a hoarse whisper. Even after the song was ended 
Lige's glance did not wander from the heavens. His 
lips moved and there was a look in his eye as if he saw 
in the air above a something that was vanishing, yet he 
could not look away from it till it was quite gone from 
view. When he did turn to the circle of silent and 
awe-struck soldiers gathered round him he looked 
dazed; and sinking to the ground, he covered his face 
with his hands. After a moment, when most of the 
soldiers had gone away, Lige got up and resumed the 
work that our coming and the song had interrupted. 

" Who is that man, Fred ?" I asked, after we received 
our rations of coffee, hard bread and fried beef, and had 
moved away from the fire. 

" The captain's cook ; got him somewhere in Tennessee, 



54 THE GUN-BEARER. 

a year ago. Do you know, Dan, I 've heard Lige sing 
that last song of his three or four times, and each time 
I hear it there seems to be something new about it. 
He 's a whole-souled fellow, is Lige, wonderfully clever; 
got lots of good sense, and does about as he pleases. 
He is quite a favorite with the boys. They never mock 
him or impose on him in any way. He 's manly and 
commands respect, in spite of some of his oddities. 
Then, too, he will find things to eat when no one else 
can. The captain fares well with Black Lige to care 
for him. Funny he called you by name." 

" Merely a coincidence," I responded. 

" I suppose so." Then, as if noticing for the first time 
the contents of his plate, he continued : " This is pretty 
good, Dan ; we don't get fried meat very often." 

" What do you get ?" 

" Coffee and hard-tack." 

" A simple meal for a hungry man." 

"Yes, rather ; but to-morrow I '11 get a junk of salt 
pork ; that 's the stuff ; that '11 give us a meal fit for a 
king. There 's nothing like salt pork for a regular 
'stand by.' With that, either fried, broiled, toasted, 
boiled, baked or raw and a little hard, or even a little 
soft tack to eat with it, a man always feels well, can 
stand any amount of marching, and is never hungry. 
You can do anything in the line of cooking if you only 
have a little salt pork. If you have beans to cook, it 's 
the pork cooked with them that makes the beans fit to 
eat. If you want a little fat to fry your meat in, if you 
want to fry pancakes, or do anything else under heaven 
for which fat must be used, pork is the article you want. 
It is the only butter a soldier gets in the field. Depend 
upon it, Dan, there 's nothing like pork." 

By this time we arrived at our fire, where we found 
three of Fred's friends (Alf Kimball, Dick Taylor and 



THE GUN-BEARER. 55 

Jake Bence), Fred's crowd, as he called them, already- 
seated on the logs about it, each busily discussing his 
ration of beef and coffee. 

Fred introduced me in an off-hand manner, and, as I 
took my seat, I became so much one of them as if we 
had known each other for years ; for formality, espe- 
cially at meal time, has no place about a soldier's camp 
fire. A man's heart naturally expands as his stomach 
fills ; the fresh air flavored with odors of burning pine, 
steaming coffee and frying and broiling meat lends its 
charm ; an atmosphere of bohemianism, a spirt of 
romance, and a sense of companionship in a dangerous 
calling — all combine to find the " good fellow" lurking 
(sometimes pretty well concealed in some of us) and 
drag him into view. 

Kimball was a good-natured, fine-looking fellow, 
easy-mannered and possessed of a happy faculty of 
giving conversation on unpleasant subjects a turn to 
keep it bright and pleasant. He was always ready to 
take things as they came, whether it was a plump 
goose, a fat hog or an order to march. 

Taylor was quiet, good natured, always ready to do a 
favor for any one, and was popular with all. 

Bence was a big-boned mountaineer and invet- 
erate growler. To give Fred's own language : " He 's 
a good feeder, brave to recklessness, good on a forage, 
but he can outgrowl any other man in the regiment." 

He had the reputation, also, of being able to get at 
all there was going on among the officers ; and if there 
was anything to be done, Bence was sure to know it 
before any one else — excepting, perhaps, Black Lige. 

I shall never forget this, my first meal in camp, as I 
sat with these men on the logs by our fire, drank my 
coffee and ate my crackers and beef. 

The sun had set. In the fading light the distant hills 



56 THE GUN-BEARER. 

came out in bolder outline, and seemed to draw near, 
while the intervals up and down the valley and along 
the river deepened in color until they gradually disap- 
peared. In silence I listened to my comrades chatting 
good-naturedly over the incidents of their short fur- 
lough — of their homes, of the camp and its surround- 
ings and of their probable future. 

Everything was so new — my uniform, belt, tin dip- 
per, plate, the faces of the men about me, the surround- 
ings — even the coffee, the hard bread and the fried beef 
were a revelation to me. 

And this was camp-life. I did not think it at all 
disagreeable. In fact, it was a pleasant hour to me, 
tired as I was with the excitement of new scenes, new 
work. It was a pleasant sight, the fire in front of me, 
around which our fellows were lounging ; the other 
fires further off, with their groups of men against a 
background of tents ; the clear night, with the evening 
star as large as a lantern ; the night wind whispering 
in the woods. 

Of all, the hardest thing to realize was that I was a 
soldier — not my own master, but a man bound to obey 
orders — to mount and ride into the teeth of death if 
need be. I turned this strange phase of a soldier's 
character over and over in my mind, the voices of my 
companions gradually fading from my ear, and in such 
cogitations I went back to the first results of war I had 
known — to the funeral of Mike Clancy at Waytown, to 
the columns upon columns of reports I had read about 
the battles and desperate charges of cavalry ; about 
infantry facing, undaunted, storms of shot and shell 
that were slaughtering them by the thousands. 

But what had I to do with this ? Then I was a boy ; 
now I was a soldier. Come what might, I would follow 
my company. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



57 



Then Mary, in all the loveliness of her youth, glided 
into my mind. Should I ever see her again ? But I 
put that thought quickly away. What was she doing 
then ? I wondered. And as I thought I seemed to see 
her, as I had found her once in a while, when we were 
together, sitting by herself, dreaming, and her vague, 
tear-dimmed eyes fixed on the southern hills. And I 
fancied myself at her side, although I knew those same 
southern hills spread wide between us. 





CHAPTER IV. 



" Come, Dan, turn out ; there goes the roll-call !" saic 1 
Fred, the next morning, punching me in the side with 
his elbow. I awoke while the last notes of the bugle 
sounding the reveille were echoing up and down the 
river through the valley below. The sun was already 
up and shining into our tent through the open end. 

" Come, Dan, come ! A soldier is up at reveille," he 
cried again, giving another poke to assist me in collect- 
ing my drowsy senses. Throwing off the blanket I crept 
out of the tent and looked about me. All over the 
camp men were crawling from tents, rubbing their 
eyes, and assembling in little groups in the company 
streets. 

" Good-looking men, Fred," I said, for want of any- 
thing better, and accompanying the remark with a 
yawn, still feeling decidedly sleepy and, withal, a little 
chilly at being forced to leave a nice warm bed for 
the cold morning air from the river. 

Fred, on the other hand, was all life and activity. 

" No better men in the country," he responded 
briskly as he dragged our accoutermerits out of the 
[58] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 59 

tent. " These men are mostly from the mountains of 
Kentucky, thorough Unionists and brave to a man. 
But come, fall in ; there 's the sergeant, and he' s going 
to call the roll." 

I was soon in line with the rest of our company, 
responded to my name when it was called, and then 
returned to the tent to roll up my blanket and clean my 
musket, which, with Fred's, had lain between us all 
night. While at work over it, I paused often to survey 
the scene before me. The sun was shining brightly 
over the tops of the hills, upon the woods and meadows, 
and making luminous the thin wreaths of mist hanging 
above the river. In the camp our little dog-tents 
looked clean and white in the fresh morning light, and, 
like the grass, sparkled with beads of dew. The mo- 
ment was one of life and activity, our camp presenting 
a most animated scene. 

Never during a whole day does a camp look so popu- 
lous as in the early morning hours, when every man is 
up and busy about his tent, bringing things into order 
for the day. From one end of the encampment to the 
other men were scattered in all sorts of positions, some 
cleaning muskets, as I was, and others building fires, 
still others bringing wood and water. In some places 
men had assembled in little groups and gossiped as they 
worked ; but, as a rule, we were separated, each man 
working by himself. 

Working over a gun is good exercise ; at least, it 
soon brought my blood into better circulation, filled my 
lungs full of the fresh air, and in consequence dispelled 
much of the discomfort of mind and body. 

" Clean mine while you 're about it," said Fred at that 
moment, coming up from the direction of the cook's 
fire, and indicating his gun, leaning against the ridge- 
pole just outside the tent. " How 's this for a piece of 



60 THE GUN-BEARER. 

pork ?" he cried exultingly, holding- up a piece of salt 
pork that would weigh at least four pounds. 

" What are you going to do with that ?" I asked. 

" Show you when breakfast is ready if they don't 
give us beef." 

" Which I sincerely hope they will, for I don't want 
to commence on pork before I have to." 

" I hope you may always get as good, my boy," said 
Fred, his face assuming a serious look. " I have seen 
the time, more than once, when I would have given 
almost anything for a piece of pork like this. 1 11 take 
care of it now. It '11 keep and come in handy before 
long." And he stowed it away in his haversack. 

" How much longer do we have to wait before break- 
fast is ready ?" I asked, having an inward feeling that 
that subject was not receiving all the attention it should 

" Oh, somewhere between half-past six and seven 
o'clock. It '11 soon be ready now. Some of the boys 
went down to the river for water right after roll-call, 
and as soon as the water boils and the coffee is made 
breakfast is ready." 

" You don't need to do anything but wipe the guns, 
do you, Fred ?" I said, after having wiped away every 
sign of moisture from the barrel. 

" Not while they are new," he replied. " After they 
have seen weather and the fire-bronze is worn off it 
takes a little elbow-grease to keep them clean. As long 
as you can keep the bronze on, wiping is good enough. 
Most of the boys prefer to keep their old guns to hav- 
ing new ones. They know them, you see, and what 
they can do with them, but they have to work a little 
harder to keep them in shape." 

I gave my gun an extra rub, rested it against the 
ridgepole and began on Fred's. " What follows break- 
fast ?" I asked him, after a pause, 



THE GUN-BEARER. 6] 

" Guard-mounting, I suppose." 

" What is that ?" I asked, having, however, a fair idea 
of what he meant. 

" Relieving the guard that have been on duty all 
night." 

" That is what I supposed. But is there any particu- 
lar parade about it ?" 

" Usually there is," he replied. " But how is that, 
sergeant ?" he cried to the orderly sergeant, who was 
passing at that moment. "Are we to have guard- 
mounting this morning ?" 

" No, not until all the officers and men are in. Until 
then the guard will be detailed from the different 
companies, without parade. It was our turn last 
night." 

" Then we won't come in for it again for a week," said 
Fred. " Well, I don't know if that is anything to crow 
over ; we'll get our share in time, and not have to 
forage for it, either." 

After a while the men most interested in the prep- 
arations for breakfast began to gather around the 
cook's fire, where they stood dreamily gazing at the 
smoke from the burning wood as 'it curled up into the 
air, or watched the steam rise from the kettles as 
the water in them began to boil. To those who pre- 
ferred it a ration of uncooked beef was served instead 
of fried meat. It saved the cook just so much labor if 
the men took it raw, and many of us preferred to cook 
it in our own way. 

Fred and I, for instance, availed ourselves of the 
privilege, and took our meat with a pot of hot coffee, 
some hard bread, and a can of condensed milk, pur- 
chased of the sutler, to another fire. 

There, with my coffee resting on some hot coals that 
I had raked from the fire, I placed my piece of beef 



62 THE GUN-BEARER. 

upon the end of a pointed stick and held it near the 
flames to broil. 

It was an interesting sight to see at least a dozen 
men squatting round the fire with a dozen pots of coffee 
resting on little piles of hot coals similar to my own ; a 
dozen outstretched hands and sticks holding as many- 
pieces of beef that shriveled, sputtered, smoked and 
blazed in the flames, and the men, without an idea of 
the ludicrous side of the picture they were making, 
gazing seriously and earnestly at the sizzling beef. 

The lower part of the beef cooked, the ends were 
reversed and returned to the fire until the rest was 
done. Then, with a little salt for seasoning, the meal 
was ready, and, with an appetite sharpened by the clear 
morning air, I fell to. Never did beef, coffee and hard 
bread taste so good. The beef was cooked to a turn ; 
the coffee was fine ; and the hard tack was fresh and 
crisp. 

Breakfast over, the awkward squad was drilled by a 
corporal, who acted as instructor. At first, we made 
more or less awkward work of it ; but, by persevering, 
our showing, in time, was good. 

After this came dinner, which, while we were at this 
place, usually consisted of some sort of stew, made of 
fresh beef, potatoes and onions ; stewed beans and 
pork, or salt beef and vegetables, with an occasional 
treat of boiled rice to give a variety. 

Day after day we went through this sort of thing, 
becoming more familiar with the use of a gun, and 
getting an infusion of military experience, discipline 
and skill in maneuvering, that in every way fitted us to 
drill with the company whenever they began. 

As stragglers kept coming in all this time, our ranks 
were soon full, and all the officers present — the colonel 
coming almost the last of all. Everybody was on the 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



63 



watch for him, and his arrival was known almost in- 
stantly throughout the whole camp, although we were 
busy with our supper at the time. 

" Now look out for battalion drills and see if our 
horses don't soon show up," remarked Fred. 

"Yes, if we are to have them !" growled Jake Bence, 
at my elbow, never taking his eyes from the beef he 
was holding to the fire. " They 've as good as lied to 
us, and I tell you, Fred, I 'm getting mighty sick of it," 
and there was a sour expression on his face which cor- 
responded strictly with the sentiment and tone of his 
grumbling. 







"v^^^ 



CHAPTER V. 



The next day, as we expected, all the companies were 
ordered out for drill, and we exercised on the parade 
ground, in all known movements for infantry, for at 
least an hour, marching, countermarching, forward, 
right oblique and left oblique ; now at a double quick, 
then at common time, marching with a full regimental 
front, or in column, and then wheeling front into line. 

Then came the parade, where we went through the 
manual of arms, and at " rest," while the drums and fife 
marched up and down the line playing " Yankee 
Doodle," " Hail Columbia " or the " Star Spangled Ban- 
ner." 

Every day, when it was pleasant, we went through 
these movements. I could not see the necessity for it 
then, but I see now how important it all was. When it 
happened to be stormy, the men who were not on 
guard kept their tents and wrote letters home or 
amused themselves in reading. 

Those little dog tents were anything but comfortable 
in wet weather. The space inside was very small, and 
the cloth so thin that one could scarcely touch it on the 
inside without getting wet. A severe rainstorm fell 
upon us one day. Fred and I covered both ends of our 
tent with rubber blankets and, sitting under the ridge- 
[64] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 65 

pole, tried to write. But the wind, which had full 
sweep of the plateau, seemed to drive the water in tor- 
rents upon us. The rain beat so hard that it penetrated 
the cloth and fell in a fine spray over us, wetting us, 
and making the place so uncomfortable that writing, 
was out of the question. We had to make the best of 
it, however, and sat and smoked until the worst of the 
storm was over. That was the most miserable and dis- 
agreeably wet day I had passed yet. On every fairly 
pleasant day we went through the same course of drill- 
ing over and over again, always for infantry — there 
were no horses yet. 

The colonel had come. All the officers and men had 
reported for duty. Still no horses. 

The team drivers who came into camp or were met 
driving by were asked had they seen them on the road. 
And they answered : 

" No ; not a sign of a hoof." 

Still we looked for them. Still they did not come. 
Disappointment was widespread, and grumbling grew 
loud. In addition to all this, a rumor went over the 
camp that we were soon to move. It did not seem pos- 
sible that, in the face of the promises made to these 
men, we would be asked to move without horses. 

One afternoon Fred, Jake and I were sitting smoking 
under a tree on the edge of the plateau, where we com- 
manded a view of the road leading from the camp 
down the slope into the valley, and for a long way up 
the valley beside the river. 

Jake had called our attention to a line of army wagons 
on the road, saying : 

" Here comes the grub train." 

For lack of anything else to do, we were watching it 
drawing near, one wagon after another appearing from 
behind the woods. 



66 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" I wonder what that means," muttered Jake. And I 
looked closely to see if there was anything that had 
escaped my attention. 

" What ?" I asked. 

" Why, that wagon-train. It 's three times as long as 
usual. Let 's go and meet it." 

We went, Fred and Jake looking anxious, I thought. 

We met the train at the entrance to the camp and 
found Jack Maddox on the first wagon. 

" Well, boys, yer off, for sure," he shouted as soon as 
he caught sight of Fred. " This is the last train com- 
ing down here. I heard 'em say so in the quartermas- 
ter's office at Lebanon." 

" I suppose so. But where 're the horses ?" responded 
Fred. 

" You haven't got them yet, have you ? Didn't I tell 
you so up in Lebanon ?" 

Jake muttered an oath or two, turned away, and I 
followed him, leaving Fred and Jack together. 

" So we are not to have horses after all ?" I said. 

" I never thought we would. But this thing won't go 
down. The boys '11 — well, you '11 see when they hear 
it. They have grumbled a heap already, 'cause they 
thought they were exercising too much, as if they were 
to be nothing but infantry. I, for one, don't propose to 
stand it." 

We were not far from the wagons then, and looking 
back I saw that a crowd of twenty or thirty men had 
gathered about Fred and Jack and were gesticulating 
wildly and swearing, and some of their faces were not 
pleasant to look at. While we stood there looking back, 
Peter Grimes, a veteran of Company G — old Pete, his 
comrades called him — left the crowd, his face hardened 
into a firm, determined scowl, and his short, iron-gray 
beard curling with anger. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 67 

" Boys !" he .shouted with an oath. " I am done." 

He stripped his belt, with bayonet sheath attached, 
from his body, lifted them high above his head and 
threw them into the road, where they lay half-buried 
in the dust. He jerked off his cap and threw it beside 
them. Then, running his fingers through the thick 
locks of bristling hair on his head until they stood on 
end, and with a curse that seemed to roll up from his 
very bowels, he cried : 

" I 've just come off guard, and by the living God, if 
they don't give us horses, I '11 never go back again !" 
and without another word, or a look to right or left, he 
strode away to his tent. 

I looked away from him to the rest, and saw that 
many were preparing to follow his example, when — 

" Boys, what 's the matter ?" said a quiet voice in 
their midst, and at the same instant Captain Hartees 
appeared from behind Jack's wagon. 

Jake and I walked back to see what would come next. 

" Where 's the horses we were to have ?" growled 
several who had just been relieved from guard, and 
stood with their accouterments on just as they had 
come off duty. They did not turn toward the captain ; 
the hard lines in their faces did not relax ; some of them 
even took off their belts and pitched them as deter- 
minedly and as resolutely into the dust as Grimes had 
done. 

The captain walked up to the man who seemed most 
determined and, pointing to the discarded belt in the 
dust, said : 

" Look here, my man, pick that up !" 

The man looked up with a derisive smile on his face, 
but the smile and the look of derision faded under the 
piercing gaze of the captain. 

" I know you are disappointed," said the captain ; 



68 THE GUN-BEARER. 

"so am I. We have done our best to keep our promises ; 
but, because we have failed, this is no way for you to 
do. Pick that up !" and the man, after waiting a mo- 
ment, obeyed ; but his face, though the smile had van- 
ished, was as hard and as grim as ever. 

"There 's yours and yours !'' said the captain, turning 
to the other men and pointing to the belts that they 
had thrown away. 

I was relieved to see the belts taken from the ground, 
although the men held them in their hands without 
making a motion to fasten them about their waists. 

" Whose is this ?" the captain asked, without ad- 
dressing any one in particular. 

" Pete's," growled the first man who had been 
spoken to. 

" You take it to him then," said the captain, picking 
it up ; " and tell him from me not to throw it away 
again. He will need it by and by ;" then, turning to 
the crowd who were watching him in gloomy silence, 
he said : 

" Boys, this war is not over. A great work still re- 
mains to be done, and it needs just such men as you to 
do it. When your time expired, you said that you could 
not and would not leave the work unfinished. You re- 
enlisted again, and I hope you '11 live in the service 
until the last blow is struck and the war is over. 

" But you did this with the understanding that you 
were to have horses, you say. I grant that horses were 
promised to you, and that they have not come. But this 
is a greater disappointment to me than it possibly can 
be to you, for I feel in part responsible. It was I, per- 
haps, who urged you most, but it 's too early yet to give 
them up. I still think the horses will come. When we 
go to the front it will probably be in the cars from 
Lebanon, and we shall, without doubt, find our horses 



THE GUN-BEARER. 69 

waiting for us at the end of the route. Till then, we 
must be patient, and wait and walk. I know what 
walking is, and want you to remember that I ask no 
man to do what I would not do, or to go where I would 
not go. I shall not send you one inch nearer the enemy 
than I go myself. Great deeds are still to be done. 
This regiment has done them and will do them again. 
In the three years of your hard-fought service you 
proved yourselves men. Don't shame your record now." 

He turned, and walked calmly away ; but as he passed 
us, I saw that his face was very grave, almost anxious ; 
and when he had gone on some distance his hands met, 
and clasped each other behind his back. His pace be- 
came gradually slower, and his head fell forward on his 
chest, as if he were oppressed with the weight of serious 
thoughts. 

The men remained standing for a few moments in 
the same positions. The three who had thrown away 
their accouterments were buckling them on again, but 
they all looked as morose and savage as ever. We felt 
that the storm had not broken after all, but was still 
brewing. 

As the crowd separated Fred joined me, whispering 
as he did so : 

" It is not over yet. This is only a beginning." 

That night the whole camp was gloomy ; no songs 
were heard, no laughter. The men, squatting about 
the fires, cooking their suppers, were silent and sullen ; 
and when the evening meal was finished and darkness 
had fallen, the same feeling of uneasiness was in the 
air. Nothing was heard but growling and grumbling 
on every side. 

I lay for a while on the ground, listening to the dis- 
contented mutterings of my comrades, and wondering 
how and when it would all end. When my pipe finally 



TO THE GUN-BEARER. 

went out I put it in my pocket, arose to my feet and 
walked away. 

Fred, who had been .seated near me, sprang to his 
feet and followed me, saying : 

" Where are yon going, Dan ?" 

" I am going to walk," I replied. " I go on guard at 
eight o'clock." 

When he came quite close to me he said : 

"This looks bad, mighty bad, and I don't like it." 

" Neither do I. But what's going to be done. The 
boys have been used badly ; there's no use denying it, 
and somebody is to blame for it." 

"There's one thing you can count on," said Fred. 
" The boys are not going to leave camp quietly without 
horses." 

As we walked we approached the quarters of com- 
pany I. Owing to the fact that this company had not 
been recruited, there were fewer men in it than in ours. 
But these men were veterans, who had fought side 
by side since the regiment was mustered into service. 
They were mostly from the same section in Kentucky, 
all of the same habits of life, too — all mountaineers. 

When we reached them they were grouped around 
one fire which, uncared for, was dying slowly away. 

The red embers glowed without giving much light, 
but occasional flashes of flame enabled us to see the 
scowling faces and iron frames of the men, who seemed 
to be gathered in council, some standing, some sitting 
on the logs and some lying flat on the ground, while 
wreaths of pipe-smoke floated away into the clear, 
moonless night. 

They were not given to much talk, these silent, reso- 
lute men, and we stood for some time on the outskirts 
of the crowd before we caught the drift of what they 
had been saying. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 71 

" They say we 're to have 'em bum-by, when we get 
nearer to the front," somebody on the opposite side of 
the fire was, saying. 

" It's a lie," some one else growled. "Who believes 
it?" 

" What are we drillin' and drillin' as infantry every 
day for, if we 're to have horses ?" said another. " I 
tell yer, boys, it 's dog-goned crooked, an' we don't 
stand it." 

There came a deep growl of assent from the hearers 
assembled. 

Another spoke, after a pause : 

" I '11 tell yer what, I 'm in fer the work, if they '11 
use me squar', but I '11 be dogged if I 'm goin' to tramp 
another three years and tote the duds I have had to, to 
make me comfortable for the last three. I 'listed for 
mounted infantry and not for ' foot,' and if they don't 
give us horses I 'm done." 

The silence which fell then was soon broken by 
another harsh voice. 

" 'Pears to me like the only chance the reb's have for 
success is in our government goin' back on the soldiers 
that 's willin' to do the fightin'. We 're strong 'nough, 
know 'nough, and we 're brave 'nough, but the men 
that 's over us don't know 'nough 'nd they can't do the 
work as belongs to 'em ter do. We went through one 
three years, and 'pears to me a man 's got no right to 
tell us we 're goin' to have horses when he knows we 
ain't, just to get us to 'list over again. No Kentucky 
man would do so mean a thing as that." 

" No Kentucky man would do it," repeated another 
voice. 

Just then the dying fire gave out a flash, and look- 
ing toward the place whence the last voice came, I 
saw that Still Dick Vedder was the man who had 



72 THE GUN-BEARER. 

spoken. He was seated on a camp-stool at the back of 
the circle, a little apart from the others. 

The sudden flash of light appeared to startle him, 
and as he looked up I thought I saw a murderous ex- 
pression just vanishing from his face. 

Vedder was known as a strange man ; something 
peculiar about him. He had no chums ; did not seem 
to want any, and no one cared to cross him in anything. 

It was told of him that his father, mother and his 
wife and children were shot by a band of guerrillas, or 
driven into the woods to die, and some one said that he 
had sworn a fearful oath of vengeance. 

This accounted for his hatred of the rebels. There 
were strange stories told of his doings in battle. He 
was reckless, brave to a fault, and would fight as long 
as there was any one to figM, and had almost to be 
driven from the field. Last of all it was told, and often 
repeated, how, at Chicamauga, he walked up to a de- 
fenseless prisoner and shot him dead. He had recog- 
nized one of his father's murderers, it was claimed, 
but the action was brutal. Such was the man — silent, 
determined, reckless ; not to be turned aside when once 
he had made up his mind to an action. 



>4*~-J) 








CHAPTER VI. 

It was a night of cloudless beauty that closed this 
most eventful and, as we learned later, last day of our 
camp life at Point Burnside. 

When we left the camp fire of Company I, Fred and 
I walked together as far as the headquarters of the 
guard, where we parted. Here I found the corporal 
just about to take out the relief, so I fell into place and 
soon reached the post where I was left to my duty. 

Alone with the cold stars staring down from above 
and my thoughts — which were not, on that occasion, 
the most pleasant companions — I tramped back and 
forth from a solitary tree, which was the boundary at 
one end of my beat, in a direct line to a big stone mark- 
ing its limit at the other end. 

I could think of nothing but the disturbed state of 
our camp and of the air of surly and defiant stubborn- 
ness in the men of Company I. But, however much 
my mind was occupied with a consideration of the pres- 
ent condition of things and of the causes which had 
given the boys occasion for grumbling, I still found 
myself trying to reason out, to my own satisfaction, 
what the result of this disappointment was likely to be. 
As may be imagined, there could be one conclusion 
from my point of view. 

[73] 



74 THE GUN-BEARER. 

That there would be trouble was evident to all. 
There was little that these men would not do if the 
proper leader was at hand and had the courage to step 
to the front at the right time. Recklessness certainly 
had no limits to which they would not go if occasion 
offered. 

Again and again I came to the conclusion that we 
were standing over a volcano, which might burst forth 
at any time or place. And as often as I arrived at 
this conclusion, and its horrible results became clear to 
me, I would be aroused from my meditation, with a 
shiver, to find myself standing still, grasping with both 
hands the stock of my gun, the barrel resting across my 
left arm, and my eyes fixed upon the ground. It may 
have been the chill of the dew that affected me, or it 
may have been the feeling of dejection with which I 
seem to have been overcome, that was responsible for 
these creeping chills ; but of one thing there was no 
longer a doubt in my mind — this matter was working 
me up to a high state of nervous excitement, and, for a 
soldier, this ought not to be. 

As I stood in the darkness and listened with anxious 
ears, I would catch, now and then, a vague murmuring 
sound from the camp, like the moaning sometimes 
heard in a forest before a storm ; then the bodeful, 
startling cry of some night-bird hovering over the 
place would sound out upon the quiet air. Occasionally 
I heard the slow and measured tread of the sentinel 
whose beat adjoined my own. 

The moon rose about eleven o'clock, throwing up a 
delicate rosy haze at first, then mounted into a green- 
ish silver, dispelling the melancholy gloom, and, as the 
obscurity of the night vanished, I could look about me, 
out over the vague unearthly landscape, over the hills 
and dales, and up and down the shadowy, winding 



THE GUN-BEARER. 75 

river. Just then, also, a breeze sprang up, and the 
dewy freshness that filled the air was a thing for which 
to be grateful. 

By the smoldering camp fires, I still could see indis- 
tinct forms of men ; few had gone to their tents, though 
it was long after " taps." The very air breathed sus- 
picious wakefulness. Occasionally I heard footsteps, 
not of my comrades of the watch, but of some one 
approaching from the camp ; but those that made the 
noises either stopped short or turned away before I 
could make out who they were or what they intended 
doing. 

At length a more hurried and more decided foot- 
step startled me. It did not turn aside, but came 
straight on. My heart beat fast, and I confess to a feel- 
ing of loneliness, as if every friend had deserted me. 
Very distinctly do I remember also the stirring of the 
hair upon my head, an effect, I had thought once, was 
beyond the most extreme result of terror. A cold 
sweat started from my face, and my hands grew wet, as 
if they had been doused in water ; and had I tried to 
run away I believe my legs would have failed me. I 
had no time for a cool decision between the glory of 
death at my post of duty and shameful retreat, for the 
footsteps came pounding on. I was scared, and would 
have run, but something beyond my power to name 
rooted me to the spot. 

Hastily summoning all the resolution at my com- 
mand, and nervously bringing my rifle to a position of 
defense, I cried with a voice as loud as the dry and 
parched condition of my throat would permit : 

" Halt ! Who goes there ?" 

" Friend," came the response, and the dark form of a 
soldier stepped from the shadow of a tree into the 
moonlight, not ten feet away. 



76 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Advance, friend, and give the countersign,' 1 I said, 
in as steady and stern a voice as I could command. 

" I haven't any countersign but horses. That 's what 's 
the matter with me, 'nd I 'd as lief be sent to the guard 
house for it as not," the man said, as he came to a stop 
not two paces from the point of my bayonet. 

" Well," I replied, gaining confidence in myself as the 
knowledge that I was master of the situation dawned 
upon me, " I don't propose to send you to the guard- 
house ; only don't try to cross the line here." 

The man moved away, and I resumed my walk with 
a sigh of relief. 

For a time everything was quiet. I saw nothing new 
— heard nothing strange. The soldiers lounging about 
the camp fires left one by one, until all had disappeared. 
The neglected fires were fast dying out, and I was just 
calculating that my time for duty was about up, and 
that I would soon be relieved and asleep, when I saw 
something moving among the headquarter tents. 

Soon the black shadow of a man on horseback left 
the camp and approached the line of guards across the 
wagon road. It halted at command, approached the 
sentry, gave the countersign, probably though I was 
too far away to hear it, and was allowed to pass. Then 
I heard, indistinctly, the hoof beats of a galloping horse. 

I wondered what it all meant, and watched the rider 
in his course down the road to the valley, and up along 
the river bank ; saw him pass into the shadow of the 
woods ; watched for him where I knew he must reap- 
pear in the moonlight, and so on, until he finally 
disappeared behind the woods of the valley. I turned 
away, for I knew I should see him no more. 

A few moments later I again heard footsteps ; this 
time coming toward the camp from outside the line. 
This was the first time I had heard any sound outside 



THE GUN-EEARER. 77 

our lines, and thoughts of an enemy at once presented 
themselves, only to be dispelled by the thought that we 
were much too far north for that. Strange to say, I 
was not nearly so scared as on the former occasion. 

A steady look in the direction of the new-comer soon 
revealed our orderly sergeant, walking leisurely and 
unconcernedly toward me. 

" Halt !" I said, when the sergeant had approached 
to within a few paces of me. 

" Hello, Dan !" was the response. " Is that you ?" 

I was somewhat surprised — rather pleasantly than 
otherwise — at the first non-commissioned officer in the 
company addressing me thus familiarly, so I replied in 
a voice full of confidence in myself : 

"Yes, it is I !" 

" Has there been any passing the lines to-night 

" Not on this beat." 

" Heard anything or seen any of the officers of the 
other companies ?" 

" No. They haven't been this way !" 

" Well, there 's lot of 'em out, and they '11 be along 
soon ! We 've been out since sundown, and there isn't 
a blessed one*of us has the countersign. Lucky for me 
I happened to strike your post instead of that of some 
of the men who came day before yesterday ; for you 
happen to know who I am, and that makes it all right.'' 

"Certainly!" I replied, repeating the last words of 
his remark. " That makes it all right." 

" By the way, Dan," said the sergeant, pausing in 
front of me as he crossed the line ; " I notice there 's 
one thing you have either forgotten or have never been 
taught. Let me show you how to hold your gun when 
you challenge an officer." 

This was a new idea to me, and supposing there 
might be something that I had not learned in the line 



78 THE CUN-REARER. 

of respect due an officer from a sentinel on duty, I 
handed my gun to the sergeant. 

" Now, sir !" said the sergeant, sternly, bringing the 
gun to a charge and pressing the point of the bayonet so 
hard and close to my breast that I was compelled, in 
order to prevent injury, to step back — back — back. 
" Now, sir, supposing I was a stranger and an enemy, 
who had wheedled you in giving up your gun. Where 
would you be ? I could easily lay you out, eh ?" 

This was a fact, and I had to admit it. 

" I have purposely done this to teach you a lesson. 
Always remember, when you are on duty, that until 
you get the countersign, there is no more respect due 
from you to your superior officer than there is to a 
private. You are not supposed to know any one. What 
you want, and all you want is the countersign ; and 
that in every case you must have before you let any one 
pass. Another thing ; don't let any one — not even a 
general — take your gun away from you again. Never 
let it go out of your hands. The safety of the army 
depends upon the faithfulness of those detailed to watch 
while others sleep. Never forget this. An unarmed 
soldier on guard is as useless as a cat without claws in a 
fight. Here, take your gun, hang on to it, and don't 
give yourself away to your comrades to-morrow morn- 
ing. The countersign is ' Sherman.' " Saying which 
the sergeant left me and walked toward the camp. 

I was somewhat humiliated by this experience, for 
the necessity of being vigilant and alert was already 
known to me. It had been impressed upon my mind 
before we went on guard ; but it occurred to me that 
this was an emergency, an affair where circumstances 
seemed to alter cases — one demanding the exercise of 
sound judgment. I saw now that I was wrong, and was 
ashamed I had been so easily caught. The only bit of 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



79 



consolation left me was in the warning 1 , " Not to give 
myself away." It was evident my instructor was one 
who considered only the importance of my efficiency as 
a soldier. 

Shortly after this I heard a commotion along the 
guard line, and by the heavy tramp of feet knew that 
my neighbor had been relieved and that it was my turn 
next, 




CHAPTER VII. 

When I awoke the next morning- Fred was already 
outside, talking with Bence and Kimball, who occupied 
the next tent. Kimball was saying : 

" The - " - won't dare to order us off after what hap- 
pened yesterday. They know mighty well we won't 
leave here if we don't get them." 

It was plain to me that horses formed the subject of 
their conversation, and that, with the rising sun, this 
one absorbing topic for discussion was returned to with 
as much passion as ever. 

" And I tell you they will order us out," drawled 
Jake, " and they won't make any bones of it, either. 
The men who left last night knew what they were 
about." Then, after a moment of pause, he added im- 
patiently : " I was a fool that I didn't go, too." 

" Has anybody gone ?" I asked, sticking my head out 
of the tent, and feeling, at the same time, that I could 
account for one absent one if I would. 

" I reckon there has," responded Jake, with a flourish 
of the pipe-stem he had been cleaning. " Company D 
lost two, three gone from Company I, and w r hen roll-call 
is over you '11 find a heap more missing." 

And sure enough, when the roll was called, at the 
[80] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 81 

name of Hiram Haines no voice answered ; and so, 
later on, there was no response to the name of Henry 
Roberts. 

The call over, we began to cook breakfast. All the 
time the conversation moved upon only one subject — 
horses, and the trouble sure to come if we were ordered 
to leave without them. 

" What are we going to do ?" Fred asked. 

" Do !" sneered Jake, with his arms squared firmly on 
his breast, the rugged wrist of one hand showing out 
past the dark, half-concealed knuckles of the other. 
" Do ! I don't want to be the man to give the order to 
leave this place." 

" You wouldn't mutiny, would you ?" I asked. 

" Couldn't say what a lot of men that have been im- 
posed on would do," replied Bence, with a challenging 
glance toward headquarters. " We 're no fools, nor 
cowards either, and they '11 find it out." 

Immediately after breakfast we were ordered to 
strike tents, to roll up our blankets, and get ready to 
move. 

" That settles it," said Taylor. " There 're no ifs about 
that." 

" Didn't I tell yer," muttered Jake, and both men, 
from very force of habit, started to obey the order, 
although they first looked around expectantly, to see 
if any opposition was made. All over the camp men 
were executing the command ; but slowly, as though 
they were doing it under protest. 

Shortly after this we were marched by companies to 
the supply wagons, where three days' rations were 
issued to us. Then forty rounds of ammunition were 
distributed. This filled our cartridge boxes and left a 
handsome balance to stow away in our haversacks with 
the rations. 



82 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Men were gathering in little groups, and in some 
instances exhibiting considerable feeling ; still, there 
was no alarming disturbance. I was all keyed up with 
suppressed excitement. What could it mean ? All the 
talk and bluster of the day before must have meant 
something ; and that it did, indeed, mean something, I 
saw too plainly, as I glanced at the faces of the veterans 
about us. 

There is a point where surly, dissatisfied obedience 
ends, and mutiny — defiant, reckless and often deadly 
mutiny — begins ; and this crisis in our affairs was fast 
approaching. 

At last the tents were all struck, divided and rolled 
up with the blankets. Every one had decided how 
many of the little things that had been collected he 
would want to carry in his load, and how many must be 
left behind. 

When my accouterments were all on, my load, per- 
haps a fair sample of the others, was as follows : 
A haversack hung by a strap from my right shoulder 
across my body to my left side, and in it were knife, 
fork, spoon, plate and enough pork, hard bread, coffee 
and sugar for three days. In my knapsack, strapped to 
my back, were writing paper, pins, pens, pipe and 
tobacco, ink, soap, towels, underclothing, stockings, etc., 
etc. Hung over my left shoulder was a canteen full of 
water ; also over the same shoulder hung my blankets 
and tent, rolled up tightly into a horse-collar shape, 
and tied at the ends. From my belt hung a dipper, 
a cartridge-box, which was heavy with ammunition, 
and over my left hip a bayonet in its sheath. This, 
with my gun, made load enough for one man to carry. 

All that was now left for us to do was to kill time by 
talking, smoking and lounging around, waiting for 
orders. This is an experience which enters largely into 



THE GUN-BEARER. 83 

every soldier's career, and, already familiar with many 
of the possibilities in this direction, I had seated myself 
and was smoking my pipe and dreaming of home when, 
unexpectedly, one of the teamsters arrived from Lebanon 
with the mail. 

Thoroughly aroused by the chances of that mail- 
pouch containing a letter for me, I arose and, with 
others, followed the mail-carrier to headquarters, where 
the letters and papers were distributed. 

There were two letters for me — one from mother, 
which was opened first and read where I stood. The 
other letter I knew, by the writing on the envelope, 
was from Mary. It did not take me long to find a place 
where it could be absorbed without disturbance. 

Again and again I read it, until every word seemed 
to me a text from which a sermon on the loveliness of 
woman might be preached. I was assured that the 
house was now very lonely without me. That my room 
remained just as I had left it, and that nothing in it 
should be disturbed until I returned. That every even- 
ing, when it was pleasant, she had been to walk along 
the same road and by the paths which we had so often 
walked together, and that every step she took, every 
foot of ground passed over, reminded her of some 
word or look from me, which she had jealously hoarded 
in the treasure-house of her heart. She would wait 
and hope and pray for my safe return. 

. By the time I had fully digested the contents of my 
two letters and returned to the company, the incident 
of the unlooked-for mail had apparently been forgotten, 
and horses again formed the topic for discussion. 

About ten o'clock we had left the camp ground and 
were standing by companies in a line on the road at the 
foot of the slope facing the hill. 

" Where 's the colonel ?" Fred asked. 



84 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" He left last night, so the boys say," muttered Kim- 
ball, abstractedly. 

" Yes, and I saw him leave ; he went about midnight," 
said I, for the rider of the horse which I had seen gal- 
loping away last night could have been none other than 
the colonel. 

" He did well," said Jake, harshly. 

" Who '11 command ?" I asked. 

" Hartees, I reckon ; he 's the senior captain. Yes, 
there he is now !" 

I looked in the direction Jake indicated and saw the 
captain standing in front of the center of the line, 
leaning against his sword, the point of which was rest- 
ing on a stone behind him. 

He was waiting until we should be joined by the last 
of the purposely straggling squads which kept coming 
in sight on the brow of the hill. 

At last, a party of three or four came down, followed 
by a lieutenant of one of the companies. The men 
took their places in line, and the officer reported that 
the camp ground was clear. 

Then the command was passed from company to 
company : 

" Right face ! Forward ! March !" 

Away off to the right of the line the drums began 
to beat and mechanically we obeyed the order. 

Without the buoyant feelings and the excitement 
that change is wont to bring, for even the drums seemed 
to be affected by our discontent, and without other 
noise, except the scuff of feet in the dust and a mut- 
tered oath now and then in grim, determined silence, 
we began our march. 

But the complaints of Company I, which was directly 
in front, kept coming over to us, keeping my comrades 
in a chronic state of discontent. They had come into 



THE GUN-BEARER. 85 

possession of some liquor somehow, possibly from the 
sutler, for he was a sympathizer in our troubles, and 
that also added vehemence to their grumblings. 

I think we would have gone along quietly enough if 
left alone. Jake Bence was the most mutinous in our 
company, and his growling was without effect, for he 
was always at it ; but listening to the grumbling in 
Company I, which was every moment becoming louder 
and more excited, we were rapidly being wrought up 
to about the same state of mutiny. 

Besides, the sergeant of Company I was chiming in 
with the men, and was as mutinous as any one. It 
seemed to me, though, it was his duty to encourage a 
cheerful obedience of orders rather than to discour- 
age it. 

Right in the midst of it, happening to look up, I saw 
the captain standing on an embankment beside the 
road watching the regiment, as company after company 
marched past him. 

No man's actions or bearing escaped him as the lines 
marched by ; and although he seemed at ease, on his 
face I plainly saw the same expression of anxiety that 
I noticed there the day before. 

Every muscle in his body was strung up to its high- 
est tension. His face was paler than usual under its 
coat of tan, and his eyes and hair never seem so black. 
He saw clearly in what a demoralized condition his 
command was, and knowing that something must be 
done to improve it, was watching for the proper time 
and place for action. Nor did he have long to wait, 
for the steady marching brought Company I, with its 
mutinous sergeant, directly in front of him. 

The company was making its way along the road 
with a shambling, devil-may-care gait for the most part, 
and growling as they went. 



86 THE GUN-BEARER. 

The sergeant had not seen the captain, probably, for 
he was saying : 

" To be cheated and gulled into re-enlistment, as we 
have been, and then to expect us to quietly give in like 
a lot of whipped dogs ! I tell you, boys, I 'm not going 
through this sort of thing for another three years." 

" There it goes," said I to Fred ; " somebody will 
catch it now." 

I had hardly spoken when the captain, with two steps, 
stood beside the orderly. 

" Give me your sword," he commanded sharply, at 
the same moment snatching it from .the sergeant's 
hands. " You are under arrest ; go to the rear." 

The action was so unexpected that the sergeant, 
dumfounded, shrank back, and for a moment looked 
at the captain irresolutely ; then, turning to the men, 
ran his eyes quickly over their faces, as though seeking 
some sign of encouragement. 

The whole regiment had been watching the motions 
of the captain, and, simultaneously with the arrest of 
the sergeant, moved by a common impulse, broke from 
the order of march, fell back, and gathered in a circle 
around this center of interest. 

In that center stood the captain, with his black eyes 
flashing lightning as he swept the circle of faces, watch- 
ing for the first sign of what was to come next. He 
was playing for his life, and he knew it. He was one 
man at bay, and encircled by a regiment — six hundred 
angry, desperate, reckless men. It was a moment to 
try the stoutest heart. 

As I followed the captain's angry glances around the 
circle of faces, noting the well-conveyed indifference 
to his peril, the extraordinary actions of Still Dick 
caught my eye. He was leveling his musket over the 
shoulder of his file leader, and had lowered his head to 




HE LEVELED HIS MUSKET AT THE CAPTAIN'S BREAST. See Page 86. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 87 

take sight at the captain's breast, not a dozen feet away 
from the muzzle of his gun. 

Dick was as cool as ice. His wooden face was as 
vacant of expression as if he were about to fire at a 
target ; his eyes alone revealed, in their cold, glittering, 
cruel glance, something of what was passing in his 
mind. 

The two men immediately in front of Vedder, when 
they saw the gun barrel appear between them, stepped 
quickly to one side, leaving the captain thus face to 
face with his silent enemy, the most dangerous and 
deadly-sure man among us, who held a loaded musket 
at his breast, making preparations to fire. 

It seemed as if the silence, broken only by the 
" click," " click," as Vedder pulled back the hammer of 
his gun, could be felt ; and, while the crowd behind 
the captain separated to the right and left to be out of 
the way, the rest of us, paralyzed by this deliberate 
murderous intention, stood spellbound, and watched 
every motion with strained eyes, expecting to see the 
fire leap out, and our captain fall bleeding and dying 
in the road. 

Yet Vedder did not fire, and those moments of hesi- 
tation seemed to our torturing suspense expanded into 
hours of waiting. The man's face was changing, too ; 
taking on an ashy pallor and becoming expressive, first 
a black, determined scowl and tightening of the lips, 
then a nervous twitching of the features and the gun 
barrel began to waver. 

Quicker than thought — so quick, in fact that none of 
us really saw it — the captain's sword flashed up beneath 
the gun-barrel, struck it a ringing blow, and the mus- 
ket, knocked from Vedder's nerveless fingers, exploded 
harmlessly above our heads. And, in dumb, motionless 
astonishment, we stood staring at the two men until 



88 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the captain, pointing with his sword up the road, 
cried : 

" Now, men, to business ! Fall in !" * 

The hard faces relaxed, the trouble was over. A sigh 
of relief parted the lips of all ; and, as we fell into line, 
some one in Company I waved his cap in the air and 
called for "Three cheers for our captain !" in a loud, 
clear voice. They were given with a will, and it seemed 
as if all the reckless desperation vanished in them, giv- 
ing volume and power as it went out of the hearts of 
men into harmless sound, ju c+ , as a heap of powder 
touched off in the open air bursts forth into harmless 
flame and clouds of smoke. 

" Forward ! March !" 

Was it because we were in fear that we now so cheer- 
fully obeyed this command ? Did we repent our mutinous 
attitude when we saw our captain standing before the 
muzzle of Vedder's gun ? Wer^ we ready now to give 
over our grumbling and go in peace, because the officer 
in command had so ordered ? Were we fickle ? Were 
all the grumbling and threats so freely indulged in the 
day before all idle bluster ? With me it might have 
been so, but with the others it was not. A thousand 
times, no ! 

In that moment, when our captain faced Vedder, if 
he had betrayed the slightest movement of a muscle, if 
his eye had wavered from Vedder's by a hair's breadth, 



* I often pause to wonder over this incident in our history. Why did 
not Vedder tire? What power rested in the eye or will of our captain to 
turn that man of all others from his purpose? What did the expressions 
of Vedder's face mean, if they were not the outward signs of Hie struggle 
in his mind? The determined scowl and tightening. of the lips signifying 
that his resolution was wavering, and he was trying to force it to stand 
firm. 

His mental strain must have been terrible; but, though careless and 
reckless of all consequences to do this one deed in the way it had to be 
doue, he had not the nerve. 

The captain did not stain his victory with any harsh measures, and 
Vedder, thoroughly cowed and trembling like one stricken in years, was 
allowed to tramp ou with rest. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 89 

he would have fallen at our feet with a bullet in his 
heart, and a little later six hundred veteran soldiers 
would have been tramping away from that place, in per- 
haps as many directions, going back to their homes. 

It was the man who could look death in the face 
without flinching, that had caused this revulsion of 
feeling, had excited the admiration of his fellows, and 
had conquered. Among soldiers, it is not the face nor 
the form, nor anything else, that is admired except the 
will, the indomitable will that knows no fear. What- 
ever sort of man our captain might turn out to be, he 
was at least a brave one. 

All day long, up hill and down, through mud and 
dust, in broiling sun and cooling shade, we tramped. 
Though the shoulder-straps of our accouterments were 
cutting into the flesh, though our feet were blistered, 
still we did not complain. 

At last, almost at night, we came into a quiet valley 
with pleasant fields beside the road, and fence rails for 
fire wood. 

"Halt!" came the command from the head of the 
column. 

Here we were to camp, and we knew it ; a tired but 
unanimous cheer waked the echoes of the valley. 

In a trice our guns were stacked ; the load was off 
our backs ; fires were built and supper cooked. We 
were contented — almost happy ; for we were at rest. 

The power of one man ; that power which had para- 
lyzed Still Dick's finger on the trigger of the gun 
aimed full at his breast ; which had quelled the mutiny 
and kept us wearily but willingly plodding on through 
dust and heat, all that livelong, tedious day, was over 
us still : and when, at night, we gathered about the 
cheerful camp-fires, with our pipes well filled, we came 
to talk of that never-to-be-forgotten scene, as we re- 



90 THE GUN-BEARER. 

called the heroism of the captain and in our minds' eye 
saw him again standing unflinchingly before the muz- 
zle of Vedder's rifle, horses were forgotten, and our 
weariness lost sight of. 

Would there be any more trouble, any more attempt 
at mutiny ? 

Never. The captain had conquered the whole regi- 
ment — made us as one man. There was not one among 
us who would not have faced a battalion at his com- 
mand. 

Did we talk of horses ? 

They might have been mentioned, but they were not 
considered of so much importance now. The captain 
had tried to get them, we said. The colonel was the 
most to blame. He had fled, leaving another to take 
his place and front his danger. 

The veterans were loud in the captain's praise and 
promised themselves that their old achievements would 
be as nothing compared with the glory they would win 
under such a leader. 

The sentinels pacing the watch that night looked on 
a different scene from the one I saw the night before. 
They saw no restless excited forms about the dying 
fires, heard no footsteps save their own. 

Our regiment had, indeed, settled down to business. 
We were on a war footing. One man had controlled 
and united us into one huge machine, obedient to his 
will. 

, We slept soundly, undisturbed by dreams of home or 
friends or battles ; only for an instant, as I slept, Mary 
seemed to be standing before me, and her eyes were 
sad with tears. I seemed to be saying : " Now I am off 
to the war"; and she vanished. 

We awoke, footsore but refreshed. But we must " up 
stakes " and be off. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 91 

The distance travelled that day, however, was not 
nearly so great as that of the day before, but at night 
there was hardly one in the regiment who had not a 
blister to remind him of the two days' tramp ; and then 
we saw something of the spice and wit that flow so 
easily about the campfires of soldiers on the march. 

At Point Burnside our life had been like a picnic, in 
a way. We had a few hours of drill and duty, it is 
true, but there was no danger and no changing scene. 
We had collected, besides, little conveniences — bits of 
comfort, as it were — but these were now left behind, 
and I was surprised to see how easily we got along 
without them. The days then were all alike, but now 
no one could tell what the next hour would bring 
forth. 

For several days we marched from place to place, 
but no day's journey was as long as the first ; resting- 
places were more frequent, and the hours of camp more 
pleasant. Everybody seemed in excellent spirits. We 
were well, though simply, fed. Our blisters were dis- 
appearing, and our load was getting lighter. 

We were marching in a northward direction through 
Somerset, Waynesburg, Stanford, Danville ; thence 
across to Lebanon, where we were put into cars and 
landed at Louisville. 

Here, many were mustered in, and after a few days 
we were cooped up in box-cars on the road to the 
front. 

Travelling in box-cars is not the most comfortable 
way of going from place to place, but we enjoyed it 
nevertheless. 

Many were the little devices we made up to make our 
quarters comfortable. 

By forage we collected hay and straw enough to 
cover the floor of our cars, and on this we lay and 



92 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



dozed, or listened to such parts of the stories that were 
told as the rattle of the train permitted us to 
hear. 

We were hastening toward the front, covering a great 
deal of ground without marching, and withoxit having, 
as Jake said, " to take our accouterments ;" and for all 
this we were thankful. 





CHAPTER VIII. 

After we had travelled thus by rail for two days or 
more, I awoke one morning to the consciousness that 
something must be wrong. 

I had an idea that we should be rattling and slam- 
ming over the road as usual, but, on the contrary, the 
train was now stopped, and the clatter I had gone to 
sleep by having ceased, the silence of death seemed to 
have taken its place. As I lay, for some moments, on 
my Ded of hay, drowsily pondering the situation, I be- 
came more and more aware of the fact that most of my 
comrades in the car had disappeared, and that the few 
whom I still could see standing at the door between me 
and the bright sunlight were talking together and 
pointing in various directions. 

Raising myself upon one elbow, my eyes first fell 
upon a broad river sweeping by. There was no breeze 
to ruffle its surface ; no merrily dancing sunlit waves , 
nothing but a darkly flowing stream, smooth as a pol- 
ished floor, sustaining a reflection of the opposite shore 
on one side, and on the side nearest me a few wavering 
creases of the surface marking the whirling eddies 
underneath. 

[93 1 



94 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Beyond the stream I saw the outcropping rocks and 
heavily-wooded hills of a very broken and moun- 
tainous country. Taking the whole scene together, 
it made an impression upon me that I shall not 
soon forget. Whether due to the wild and rugged 
character of the hills and mountains, standing out so 
bold and striking in the clear, strong light of the morn- 
ing, or to the resistless rush of the river, which I in- 
stinctively felt rather than saw, or to the unwonted 
stillness into which I had been so unconsciously and 
suddenly plunged, or to a mingling of all these effects, 
I cannot say ; but whatever it was, some time passed 
before I could make up my mind whether I was really 
awake or dreaming. 

" What river is that ?" I asked, throwing off my blan- 
ket and coming to my senses, at least sufficiently to ask 
questions. 

At the sound of my voice two comrades by the car 
door turned around, and at the same time the heads of 
several others appeared from the outside. What a shout 
greeted me as they heard my voice, and what unflatter- 
ing remarks were bestowed upon me ! 

" Oh, you 're awake, are you ?" said one. 

" If you are as much of a fighter as you are a sleeper 
you will be a corporal before you know it," said an- 
other. 

" You 11 wake up some fine morning to find out that 
we have wound up this war business and gone home," 
continued a third. 

By this time my connection with the regiment had 
taught me to take such shots at my greenness in the 
right spirit, and to give, now and then, a volley in reply. 
Begging them not to let such tender solicitude for me 
disturb their sweet repose, I repeated my question as 
to the name of the river which, now that I had come 



THE GUN-BEARER. 95 

to the car door and could get a better view of it, seemed 
more magnificent than ever. 

" That is the Tennessee," said Jake ; " somethin' of a 
brook, ain't it ?" 

There did seem, indeed, to be a large body of water 
passing by, and I said so, which induced Bence to 
remark that the river was specially high this season, 
which may or may not have been the case ; I did not 
know. 

" But what are we stopping for, and where are we ?" 
I asked. 

" Don't get anxious, little one," said Bracebridge, a 
particularly quiet, unimpressionable old veteran in our 
party. " You know as much as the rest of us do." 

Bence broke in here to remark that Fred and one 
other of the boys had been seen near the head of the 
train, with comrades from other companies, listening to 
our captain, who had been in conference with a lot of 
strange officials ; and that, probably, when he (Fred) 
returned to our car, we would have some definite 
information. 

"And here they come now !" cried one of our men 
from a position outside the car. 

Shortly afterward Fred climbed in ; and we plied 
him with questions to our heart's content. In the 
meanwhile "All aboard!" had been called, and the train 
began to move. 

It seemed that we were within a few miles of Bridge- 
port, Alabama — that we would probably have to leave 
the cars at that place and go the rest of the way on 
foot, as the track to the rear of Sherman's army was 
already overcrowded with trains. 

" I gathered from the conversation in general," Fred 
went on, " that we have about sixty miles to go, over a 
part of the Racoon Mountains near Shellrnound, to a 



96 THE GUN-BEARER. 

place called Ringgold, where Sherman's army is, and 
if we don't find him there, we 're to follow on until we 
overtake him." 

"Mighty poor pickings we '11 get after Sherman's 
army," muttered Taylor. 

" Well, we can be trusted to make up for it when we 
get a chance," said Jake, sententiously. 

" Yes," Fred broke in, " and it looks as if we 
were going to get a chance right away, for the captain 
said that he was going to take us over a road that had 
not been travelled before." 

"That 's the kind of talk !" we all cried, impulsively. 

After this, Fred's stock of information having been 
exhausted, we fell to discussing the fine prospects of 
good foraging, which we might reasonably expect, if 
the captain did what he hoped to do. 

I felt as if walking would rest me after being cramped 
up in a freight car for three days, and, not knowing- 
how the rest felt about it, I ventured to say as much. 
This also shook down an avalanche of unflattering 
remarks. 

" That 's all very well, but you just poke your head out 
here," cried Jake, seizing my arm and leading me to 
the car-door. 

We were rattling along over the road at a good rate 
of speed at the time, and though there was a sameness 
about the green wall of forest foliage that fronted us, 
I could catch, now and then, through open spaces, 
glimpses of rugged scenery and of the eternal hills 
beyond. 

" Yes," said I, " that is what I have been looking at 
for some time." 

" Well," said Jake, " those hills lie right across our 
track, and by the time you have marched over them 
two or three months and been in the service as long as 



THE CUN-BEARER. 97 - 

we have, you 11 make up your mind that there 's no fun 
in tramping up and down hill all the time." 

" Besides," interrupted Kimball, feeling that the sub- 
ject of walking should be tabooed, and anxious to talk of 
something else, " we are going to find it a trifle hotter 
in Alabama." 

"A trifle !" cried Jake, as willing to grumble about 
one thing as another. "A trifle ! it '11 be a heap hotter ; 
the summer 's only just coming on, too." 

In the midst of our good-natured chaffing, the train 
came to a stop, and we were all ordered out. In a few 
minutes more we had cleared the cars of everything 
that belonged to us, and were marching up the track 
beside the train. Afterward we passed through the 
town and over a bridge to where we halted, to light our 
fires for breakfast. 

From this halting place, looking back across the 
river, we could see Bridgeport and the railroad for 
some distance, where long lines of empty cars were 
waiting to pass the train which had brought us, and 
start on their journey northward, for " more provisions 
and more ammunition," it was said. 

We learned, later, that we had enjoyed a special 
favor in being transferred to the front in cars, as all 
other regiments joining Sherman had been required to 
march, because the railroad was taxed to its utmost in 
carrying to the front ammunition and provisions. 

As soon as breakfast was over, the command to " fall 
in " was given and, as we stood in line, in the road, 
fully equipped for whatever might happen, when we 
had got fairly into the enemy's country, Captain Hartees 
stepped in front of us and, calling : "Attention !" said : 

" Men, we are just on the borders of a hostile country ; 
our previous methods of marching will now have to 
be changed ! I want you to keep close together from 



98 THE GUN-BEARER. 

this time out. No straggling, remember ! I hope to 
pass through a country that has not been tramped over 
by both armies and, if we do, I believe you will en- 
joy it." 

Smiling, good-naturedly, as he concluded, he turned 
away, took his place at the head of the line and, after 
three rousing cheers, which we gave with a will, away 
we went. 

We followed the main road as far as Tyler, a small 
town which we reached early in the afternoon. 

There was nothing to be begged, bought, borrowed 
or stolen in this place. It was literally cleaned out of 
everything. 

The few people still living there looked peaked, half- 
starved and poor, indeed ; the rest had gone away, 
leaving behind them only their houses and other im- 
movable property. 

We filled our canteens with fresh water, however, 
and, after thoroughly satisfying ourselves that there 
was nothing else worth taking, we moved on, leaving 
the main road, at that place, to follow one that evidently 
had been less traveled. 

Along this new road we marched for three or four 
hours, without seeing signs of habitation of any kind. 

There were neither fences nor clearings, nor any- 
thing but woods and breaks, and rocks, that sometimes 
lay close to the edge of the road, but quite as often had 
rolled in heaps into it, making our path the roughest 
kind of walking. 

Late in the afternoon we came to a clearing, in the 
center of which stood a house. On one side the land- 
scape was just beginning to turn green with young 
shoots of corn. On the other side vegetables, of vari- 
ous kinds, were planted and beginning to grow. At 
the open door stood two small white-headed boys, 



THE GUN-BEARER. 99 

watching us as we turned in from the road ; and within 
we caught sight of a red-cheeked woman. Her sleeves 
were rolled up as if she had been cooking. 

" Got anj' chicken ?" Fred asked of the woman who 
came to the door, as soon as she discovered our ap- 
proach. 

" No, I aint got no chickens, nor anything else, 'cept 
a duck and a drake, and those I don't want to sell." 

" Sure you haven't ?" Fred insisted. " No use to hide 
them, you know ; if you 've got 'em we are goin' to 
make a search for 'em. We'll buy 'em, but we'll have 
'em sure." 

" 1 tell you I aint got no chicks, nor ducks, nor nothin' 
else. You'd better go on about your business. Come 
here robbin* people !" 

" Quack, quack, quack !" came from the back of the 
house. The woman's face flushed as she started from 
the door and ran round the house to a little pen that 
stood behind, where we soon saw her struggling with 
old Grimes for the possession of her duck, which was 
flapping its wings violently and giving utterance to half- 
strangled cries in a vain effort to get away from the 
strong hand that had grasped its neck. 

" It 's no use, mum," said Grimes ; " the duck 's a 
goner. I '11 give you four bits for him, but he 's my 
meat." 

While she was fighting for one bird the other myste- 
riously and noiselessly disappeared, and we were about 
to investigate further when a beehive, that had been 
upset to open a way to the honey, sent out a swarm of 
maddened insects, and we fled before them. In spite 
of the bees, however, some of the boys got a little 
honey. 

We left the young corn standing when we went, and 
while our actions, looking back on them now, were 



100 THE GUN-BEARER. 

unquestionably mean, it seemed to me at the time that 
the woman, poor as she was, ought to have been grate- 
ful to us for not taking everything, whether we wanted 
it or not. 

The next habitation that we discovered on our march 
was a large, fine-looking mansion, having a double row 
of balconies running entirely around the house, and 
surrounded by numerous outbuildings. 

The sun was on the point of setting when we arrived; 
and in a moment, after we were ordered to halt, the 
place was swarming with our blue-coated men. 

I saw a private of Company I fix his bayonet and run 
it through a young pig that, with several others, was 
following its mother at full speed away from him. A 
number of our company, Fred among them, joined in 
chasing the pigs that had not been secured. 

I, however, felt too tired to go running about after 
pigs, and so, with others, selected the house as the 
scene of my explorations. 

As we approached we saw a few black faces shyly 
peering at us from around the corners of the building, 
but we saw no one either to welcome us or to dispute 
our right to enter and make ourselves at home. 

Entering, we gave attention first to the cellar where 
we found, among other things, a half -barrel of peach 
brandy, some preserves and thirty or forty pounds of 
honey. When we came up we found the owner of the 
place. 

We had no particular use for him, but he was a sight 
that, in spite of us, claimed our attention for some little 
time. 

He stood on the stairs cursing and calling down all 
sorts of maledictions on the heads of Yankee soldiers, 
in general, and upon us in particular ; and his fingers 
worked as though he would have liked to have a clutch 



THE GUN-BEARER. 101 

upon each and every one of us ; but he did not have it 
and seeing, probably, that we were a few too many for 
him, contented himself with words only. After silent- 
ly enjoying his antics for a little while, we left 
him, talking as loudly and as blasphemously as 
ever. 

Loaded down with bacon, honey, corn-meal, pre- 
serves, brandy and wheat flour, we left the house and 
joined some of the boys in the road. Other comrades 
were coming from all points of the compass, some with 
chickens, ducks, peas, fresh pork ; some with one thing 
and some with another ; and, while we waited, out of 
the woods, away up on the other side of the road, came 
perhaps a dozen others, bearing on a fence rail several 
portions of a cow which they had found and killed. 

There was little use in our attempting to go much 
farther that night, and it was with gladdened hearts 
that we received orders to bivouac where we were. In 
a short time a guard had been thrown out around the 
house and the regiment ; rail-fences were then pulled 
down, fires lighted, and in a short time a glorious feast 
was preparing. We had plenty of everything that 
night, and all at the expense of one man who, thus far. 
had evidently not been treated to a taste of war. 

There were a charm and a romance about this sort of 
thing which rather pleased me, and I began to see 
something of the glamour that surrounds the soldier's 
life and leads him to reenlist in spite of ties of blood 
and home. 

Hay and straw from a well-filled barn supplied us 
with comfortable roadside beds, and the next morning, 
a little after sunrise, our breakfast eaten, we took to 
the road again. 

Since starting, we had been marching in column ; 
now, however, our company were deployed as skirm- 



102 THE GUN-BEARER. 

ishers on the right of the regiment which was following 
the road. 

Fred explained to me, as we tramped along, that 
marching thus, something in the shape of a letter T, 
with a line of skirmishers thrown out each side from 
the head of the column, we covered more ground, and 
guarded more completely against surprises from the 
enemy. 

The rest of the regiment marching in the road found 
no difficulty in getting along but for our company, 
scattered in a long line at right angles to the regiment, 
with about twenty or twenty-five feet between each 
man, this method of marching was hard work. With 
no road or beaten path to walk in, we were compelled 
to force our way up and down hill, through woods and 
creeks, and swamps and tangled jungles and places 
where it seemed as if the foot of man had never trod- 
den before. 

Sometimes we, at the further end of the line, would 
come in sight of the road from a clearing on the top of 
some hill, a quarter of a mile distant ; then the road 
would be lost to sight for an hour, perhaps. Occasion- 
ally we were walking comfortably along over some 
sparsely wooded hill, where the bright sunlight poured 
through the branches above us, and in a moment after- 
ward we were plunging through the tangled under- 
growth of some densely wooded dell, always trying to 
maintain our distances, keep up with the left of the 
line, move when the regiment moved, and halt when it 
halted. 

Dismal and lonely, with no other sign of life except 
the whir from the wings of some bird, that had been 
startled from its meditative solitude by our approach 
or the far-off sound of " H-a-l-t !" or "At-ten-tion !" as it 
was borne to us on the quiet air. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 103 

On one occasion, after we had been tramping for a 
long time over this rugged country without resting, 
Fred discovered a little clearing and a house hidden 
away off to the right. It was a spot that did not appear 
to ever have been visited by foragers from either army. 

Just at that moment it also happened that our boys 
in the road were called to a halt. Here was an oppor- 
tunity for our own exclusive investigation that was too 
good to be resisted ; and, stimulated by the same 
impulse, tired as we were, we started on the run for the 
clearing. 

As we drew nearer we saw a little shanty, or curing- 
house, which held forth a promise of tobacco. A few 
steps farther, and we saw hidden in a hollow a little stone 
building sitting astride a brook, evidently a spring- 
house, where milk, butter and eggs were kept. The 
promise of something more than tobacco was enough 
to divert our attention from the shanty, and when the 
spring-house was reached it was but the work of a 
moment to remove the wooden pin from the staple, pall 
back the hasp, open the door and walk in. 

The room we entered was not above six feet high 
and, perhaps, ten feet square. It was provided with a 
brick floor, in the middle of which, running from wall 
to wall, and through a stone-lined ditch about two feet 
wide and eight inches deep, flowed a stream of clear 
cold water from a neighboring spring. 

A single crock of fresh milk sat cooling in the water. 

" They did not hide that, did they ?" said Fred. 
" But," reflectively, " they Ve hidden the cow." 

" We are not going to find fault with the milk for that," 
said I. 

It was surprising how careless of dirt I had become 
after being a soldier for so short a time. I rubbed the 
dust from my fire-blackened tin dipper as well as I 



104 THE GUN-BEARER. 

could against a wisp of grass that grew by the door, 
and scooped up a dipper full of milk. 

Fred, who had filled his dipper before me, did not 
even take the trouble to clean it ; just hit it against the 
wall of the building. 

After drinking our fill, we poured what milk was left 
into our canteens and looked searchingly around for 
something more. 

" What's above here, I wonder ?" said Fred, looking 
upward. 

I glanced up and saw, just over my head, a square 
hole cut in the flooring. Raising myself through the 
hole by my hands, I got my head above the level of the 
floor and, with Fred's assistance underneath, was soon 
sprawling up there in the darkness. 

" Find anything ?" Fred asked, expectantly. 

" Yes ; here 's some tobacco." 

"Throw it down." 

I threw down half a dozen heads at least — all I could 
find, at any rate — and continued my search. 

" Here 's some beans or peas ; I don't know which 
they are," said I, after a few moments' search. 

" Let 's have 'em. We do not get peas or beans either 
while marching." 

Down went the beans. 

I felt along a little further and came upon a small 
barrel which seemed to be half full of something, as, 
when tipped to one side, it fell back heavily into its 
upright position. 

" What is it ?" said Fred, hearing the jar on the floor. 

" I don't know. It 's heavy, like sirup." 

" Perhaps it is honey — strained honey. They hide it 
in that way sometimes. It takes up less room." 

We were in a bee country, and had found some honey 
the day before. Why should not this be honey ? I 



THE GUN-BEARER. 105 

reached my hand down into the barrel until it came 
in contact with a soft, sticky fluid. There could be no 
doubt about it. My imagination swam in honey. I 
did not have my share of yesterday's find, and with 
that in mind, perhaps, my anticipation now was the 
more lively. 

"Well," cried Fred, somewhat impatiently, "what 
are you going to do about it ?" 

" I smelt of it and imagined that it smelt very much 
like honey." 

"Smells like it," said I. 

" Taste it, or else let me," said Fred, impatiently, 
catching hold of the side of the floor. 

I took one taste and that was enough. It was 
nauseating. It seemed as if I never could get that 
taste out of my mouth, try as hard as I might. 

" Dash it, it 's soft soap !" I cried, fairly shivering with 
disgust, and my face, particularly the mouth part of it, 
went through all sorts of contortions at the same time, 
which were of course, lost in the darkness. 

Fred who was looking up in expectation uttered a 
snort, half of disappointment and half of enjoyment ct 
my ludicrous mishap and said : 

"Never mind, pass me down a dipperful " — and I 
saw his hand with the dipper sticking up through the 
hole, and I heard him say, as I was filling it ; 

" I wish I had time to wash a shirt." 



CHAPTER IX. 



That night there came up a violent rainstorm that 
seemed to have been sent purposely to unpleasantly 
vary our experience. How long it had been raining 
before I woke I did not know ; but I was fully conscious 
of the fact that one corner of our tent had broken 
away from its fastening and was flapping in the wind, 
that my feet were in a pool of water and that I was 
literally drenched. 

As sleep was out of the question, I put my head 
through my poncho [rubber blanket] and went to a 
sputtering fire that some of the boys had kept well 
supplied with wood. To get dry was impossible. I 
could only keep warm. 

One after another of our rain-soaked and thoroughly 
demoralized comrades joined us at the fire, where we 
spent the night feeding the blaze, rubbing our eyes, 
which smarted with smoke, and toasting our calves 
and shins. 

By daylight the rain had ceased, and we were able to 
wring the water out of our blankets and tents and 
partly dry them by the fire before breakfast. 

When our morning meal was finished and our damp 

blankets and tents were rolled up, we went trailing and 

sloshing along, through mud and wet, as disconsolate- 

and gloomy-looking a column and skirmishing line as 

[106] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 107 

ever ventured into an enemy's country. Shortly after 
we started a drizzling rain set in and continued through- 
out the day. 

The boys all put on their ponchos, from the corners 
of which the water flowed in streams and, in this 
picturesque condition, carrying our muskets at a " se- 
cure," we plodded along hour after hour. 

There was little or no comfort to be gained from the 
"rests," for the ground was soaked with water, and 
sometimes we went in over our shoe-tops in the soft 
earth. About the only bit of pleasantry offered during 
the day came from Fred, who said : 

" I did hope to get time enough to wash a shirt ; but 
it 's all right now. All I need is to dry it." 

The only encouragement we received came late in 
the afternoon from " Black Lige," who, with a couple of 
fat chickens in each hand, passed us, singing softly to 
himself : 

" Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow, 
Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow, 
Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow, 
Don' yer bodder 'bout yer trouble till it comes." 

Here was a bit of philosophy for me ; for our situa- 
ation, bad as it was, would have been infinitely worse 
had there been any wind blowing. The life of a soldier, 
in fine weather, had thus far possessed for me an inde- 
scribable charm ; but a soaking rain was something I 
had not bargained for, and but for the sentiment con- 
tained in the song of Black Lige, my patriotism, 
which was already at a low ebb, would have disappeared 
altogether. 

All day long we had marched over hills and moun- 
tains,. and into valleys so deserted and lonesome that 
they seemed isolated from the rest of the world ; now 
threading our way along ridges so narrow that a dozen 



108 THE GUN-BEARER. 

men could scarcely walk abreast ; at other times slowly 
pushing through the heavy wet undergrowth in deep 
defiles, with towering, perpendicular cliffs on either side. 

The sun was already getting low and the prospect of 
finding a good camping spot for the night was dreary 
and cheerless enough, but after a while, coming to the 
top of a hill, we saw, in the valley below, a small village 
nestled among the trees. 

A little brook, concealed here and there by bushes, 
threaded its way close by the village. Along the banks 
of this rivulet everything was fresh and green, while 
the foliage in the country beyond looked, in the murky 
atmosphere, as if it needed a week of steady rain to 
redeem it. 

" There 's a good place for a bivouac," said I, point- 
ing to an open field, near the village. 

" Yes, looks as well as you might expect on a day 
like this, but there are too many houses around. Too 
many houses. You never know what to expect when 
you camp near a town," Jake answered thoughtfully. 

" But you don't call that a town, do you ? There are 
only a few houses, and they certainly look honest 
enough." 

" Looks don't count for much down here. It don't 
take much of a town to stir up -a hornet's nest, where 
there 's a few lively rebs living. Just give 'em a 
chance, and they 're like a lot of wolves ; they '11 sound 
an alarm, and bring a whole pack down on you. I had 
a taste of it once up in East Tennessee, in 'sixty-two." 

" Come, men," said Corporal Stebbins, " we 're goin' to 
camp on the other side of that town below there ; nice 
place, heaps of rails, straw, water." 

" What, water ?" interrupted Jake, sarcastically. 

" Yes, and everything else we want. Move along a 
little faster, men. Let 's get down there as soon 



THE GUN-BEARER. 109 

as the column does and have our fires started before 
it 's any darker." 

Stimulated by this cheering bit of information, we 
put more vigor into our movements, and, after passing 
one or two houses, reached a broad, level bottom-land, 
where we halted and went into camp for the night. We 
seemed to be in a sort of basin, surrounded by woods, 
and only a short distance removed from the town, 
which consisted of a dozen or more old tumble-down 
houses, scattered along, at irregular intervals, by the 
side of the road. These houses were without paint 
and falling to pieces, and we would have thought them 
tenantless if we had not seen two or three men stand- 
ing about the doorways, who acted as if they had a 
right there. The fences, that had formerly inclosed 
the yards from the road, were all down, leaving only a 
post here and there to mark the place they had occu- 
pied. 

The road itself showed signs of having been used at 
some time or other, but it was now cut by deep ruts 
and washouts, and the grass grew rank there. Alto- 
gether, it was a sleepy, deserted place, firm in the grip 
of decay. 

The zigzag fences in the fields gave us firewood ; and, 
after a little patient effort, we got a fire started and 
went to work to cook our supper. 

The two or three men we had seen at last gathered 
courage sufficient to satisfy their curiosity as to what 
sort of beings we were, and came cautiously slouching 
along the road through the camp, watching, with hun- 
gry, wide-open eyes and mouths, our boys cooking 
supper. They did not improve in looks on near view. 
They were thin, lank, barefooted and dressed in tat- 
tered clothes ; their beards were tangled, their long 
hair uncombed, and their faces almost imbecile for 



110 THE GUN-BEARER. 

want of expression. They were the poor whites, cor- 
responding to what are called "Crackers " in some parts 
of the South. 

" Hello, stranger," cried Fred to one of them. " What 
do you call the name of this place ?" 

" 'Coon Bottom," drawled the man, discharging a 
mouthful of tobacco juice upon the ground. 

" That 's for Raccoon Bottom ?" I asked. 

" Yes, 'Coon Bottom," he repeated, looking at me out 
of the corners of his yellow eyes. 

"Can we get any milk here !" inquired Fred, as he 
blew out the blaze on a piece of bacon he had been 
holding in the fire. 

" No cows," drawled the bushwhacker. 

" Got anything at all ?" Fred asked again. 

" Nope." 

" Seen anything of Sherman's army ?" 

" Nope." 

" Do you belong here ?" 

" Yep," and he skulked off after his companions, who 
had gone on ahead. 

" Didn't get much out of that chap, did you, Fred ?" 
said I. 

" No ; he didn't seem very anxious to talk." 

" I wonder if they are all like that down here in these 
parts ?" 

" Whether they are or not," Bence broke in, " there 's 
a devilish grin in their ugly faces that I don't like, and I 
can't feel easy in this place, wet or dry. Wish we were 
out of it." 

So do I, if there is any harm in staying !" said I. 
" The guard will have to keep their ears open to-night." 

" Of course they will," answered Bence. " But what '11 
that amount to, if there 're any bushwhackers lying 
around here ? They '11 sneak up on the best of us. 



THE :GUN-BEARER. Ill 

These fellows will be away to give the alarm long be- 
fore we can surround the place and keep them in with 
a picket." 

"Well, I suppose we '11 stay, whatever comes !" 

" Yes," he responded ; then, pointing to the hill, he 
said : " There, what do you think of that ?" 

I looked in the direction indicated and saw, fading in 
the gloom, on the top of the hill, the dark forms of 
three men. 

" That looks like trouble for us," Fred remarked, 
tersely. He, also, had followed the direction of Jake's 
finger. " But, perhaps not," he added. " I hope not." 

Shortly after supper the storm ceased, the clouds 
parted, the stars came out, and the air became clear and 
warm. After we had partly dried our clothing the fires 
were allowed to die away, and the regiment, with the 
exception of the guard, was soon asleep. 

I was suddenly startled from my dreams by a wild 
yell, a volley of musketry and the whistling of bullets. 
Every man of us was on his feet in an instant. But, 
by the time we had seized our weapons and rallied to 
repel our enemy, there was nothing to be seen in the 
darkness except the woods and the black outlines of 
the houses here and there. Neither was there a sound 
to be heard, save the thud and thump of horses' hoofs 
retreating up the road. 

Replenishing our fires with more broken fence rails, 
we found, by the light, that Peter Baker, one of the 
boys in Company D, had been killed outright and per- 
haps a dozen others had been slightly wounded. Un- 
doubtedly more would have been killed if the enemy 
had fired at us at a little shorter range. 

There was nothing we could do about it except to 
attend the wounded and await further developments. 
The camp was soon as deathly still as the dead form 



112 THE GUN-BEARER. 

of our comrade, lying motioness beside us, and there 
yet remained many dark hours of the night in which I 
might think it over. I was glad when I saw the day 
break ; happier still when the sun rose above the edge 
of the woods. 

At an early hour, and after another, and this time 
successful, effort to dry our blankets, and when every- 
thing was ready to resume our march, we were drawn 
up in line and addressed by Captain Hartees. 

" Men," said he, " before we leave this place we must 
bury Peter Baker, who was shot last night by that gang 
of cowardly ruffians who fired upon us when we were 
asleep." 

Two men detailed from Peter's company had already 
dug a grave at the foot of a huge butternut tree, in the 
bark of which a comrade had cut a large cross. 

While they were bringing the body, wrapped in a 
blanket, to lay it in the grave, we could see the hang- 
dog, sulking vagabonds of the village collecting on the 
other side of a distant fence. 

This was the first death in our regiment and, coming 
as it did, in a time of comparative peace, it oppressed 
us with a sorrow more than usually keen and, as we 
stood in silence about the grave, we marked well the 
indifferent curiosity of the people who were watching 
and grinning at us from behind the fence. 

It was not the chance of battle, but an assasin's bullet 
that took a comrade from our ranks forever, and many 
a savage scowl came to the bronzed faces of my com- 
panions ; many a muttered threat passed from mouth, 
to mouth, against the wretches who were responsible 
for this thing. 

When the body had been lowered to its last resting- 
place and the grave had been filled in, Captain Hartees, 
said : 



THE GUN-BEARER. 113 

" I want Comrade Baker's company to fire a volley 
over his grave. Fall into line, Company D, on the 
other side of the road." 

Baker's company then fell into line as ordered, and 
at the word of command, faced about, bringing them- 
selves opposite to the distant fence, with the men from 
the village partly concealed behind it. 

" Ready !" ordered the captain. 

"Captain!" cried the orderly sergeant of the com- 
pany, " these guns are all loaded with ball." 

" Silence ! Aim." 

" But, captain — " said the sergeant, not wishing to be 
misunderstood. 

" Fire ! Right face ! Forward march !" 

We had little time and still less inclination to see 
what the effect of that volley had been upon the people 
in the vicinity of the fence, but there was evidently 
some excitement over there, from the appearance of 
things. 

" Served 'em right," said Fred ; " I only hope the seed 
we planted fell into proper ground. This is the second 
time we have been served like this by trusting these 
people." 

" It is a little rough if we 've punished the innocent 
for the guilty," said I. 

" There hain't no innocent," muttered Jake ; "aU those 
were gone long ago." 

Resuming our order of march, we moved on without 
a word. I was thinking of him who had been left 
asleep under the butternut-tree, and wondering when 
my turn would come. 

Nothing unusual happened to us that day. We picked 
up forage enough to give diversity to our meals ; 
enjoyed the usual number of halts, and grumbled over 
the same amount of tiresome marching as on the day 



114 THE GUN-BEARER. 

before. At night, tired, as usual, we came to a halt in 
an uninhabited valley, and, after a supper from our 
rations and forage, we turned in and slept, undisturbed. 

The next day and the next we went through the 
same round of changes, from rest to motion and back 
again, up hill and down, with nothing especially new 
to excite us, until the life seemed to be getting about 
as monotonous as our existence had been at Point Burn- 
side. 

On the evening of the second day after we left Rac- 
coon Bottom, we marched down through Rossville, and 
there reached the main road. We did not halt in the 
village, but marched two or three miles beyond it and 
bivouacked for the night. 





CHAPTER X. 

The day following our arrival in Rossville was Sun- 
day, the 8th of May ; but, notwithstanding the sacred- 
ness of the day, we were on the march as early and we 
marched as far. 

There was so little to attract the attention on this 
monotonous tramp that I kept continually thinking of 
the changes time brings about. In my mind's eye I 
could see mj r New England home, the village of Way- 
town, steeped in Sabbath stillness. The shops were 
closed and the roadways full of pious people, in response 
to the tolling bells directing their way, with sober faces, 
to church. I wondered if Tommy was among the num- 
ber. What a difference there was between that scene 
and the one of which we formed a part ! 

I thought of old Joe ; of the sounding horn, and of 
the scene in front of the tavern on the night he brought 
in the news that Fort Sumter had been fired on, and 
then the stranger — now our captain — reading to us in 
the tavern. How curiously it had all come about ! I 
thought of the disturbance and of my father. Poor 
father, a rarely good man at heart and made fretful 
only by sickness. How it all came back to me, and 
how little I then realized that the war would last long 
enough for me to have a part in it. 

["5] 



116 THE GUN-BEARER. 

This days' tramp was not as interesting as those of 
the few days before, because, now that we were follow- 
ing the main army road, those little delicacies obtained 
in the fresh country we had passed through were no 
longer to be had, even by Black Lige, the most sharp- 
eyed genius for foraging in the regiment. Everything 
eatable and drinkable, with the exception of water, had 
been already seized, devoured or drunk by the hordes 
of Confederates and Unionists that had preceded us. 
Indeed, the region in which we now were had been 
well stripped by the enemy before Sherman arrived, 
and our people finished that work completely. 

I was now more accustomed to marching, and, realiz- 
ing more fully that every step was taking me nearer to 
the front, I did not lack food for thought and excite- 
ment with which to brace my nerves. Almost any- 
thing, I thought, would be better than tramping through 
that desolate and devastated country ; but the proba- 
bility that only a day or so more of such work would 
put us in the midst of action did much toward reconcil- 
ing me to the present. 

In this day's march we passed through two or three 
villages, or rather groups of houses, but made no halt 
among them. The houses looked so empty and deserted, 
with windows open and doors agape and no signs of 
life anywhere, that none of the boys were tempted to 
investigate. 

All along the line of march we were constantly dis- 
covering evidences of the wreck and waste of war, and 
of the myriads of men that had marched that way 
before us, and were then pressing hard upon the enemy 
behind the hills in front. 

The fences had vanished from the roadside and from 
the fields as far as we could see. Here and there we 
came upon groups of blackened circular places which 



THE GUN-BEARER. 117 

marked the location of camp fires. At times these 
blackened spots were numberless, dotting the ground 
for miles around. The turf was cropped short by 
horses, torn up by their hoofs, and scored into deep ruts 
by gun-carriage wheels. The lower branches of the 
trees also, those within reach of a horse's teeth, were 
stripped of leaves ; the bark had been gnawed from the 
tree trunks, shrubs and bushes had been torn up by the 
roots, and skeleton twigs and branches lay scattered 
about. 

The banks of the water-courses showed the plainest 
traces of the army. There, in the moist ground, as far 
up and down the stream as we could see, were the 
tracks of brogans, bare feet, hoofs and wheels, just as 
they had been left when the feet were drawn out or the 
wheels rolled on. If we had had no idea before, we 
learned from these tracks what it was that had ground 
the earth up into the fine dust that now rose about us 
in stifling clouds at the softest footfall or lightest 
breath of wind, and, floating away, covered houses, 
trees, grass and shrubs with a thick, dry coat of yellow- 
ish gray. 

In this bed of dust we were constantly turning up 
all manner of things which the army had cast away: 
broken wheels, bits of harness, worn-out shoes, hats, 
under-clothing, broken canteens, battered dippers — 
everthing that was useless, worn out or cumbersome. 

In a little rivulet stood, or rather lay, an army wagon. 
The forward wheels had been dished as the wagon 
came down the steep bank to enter the stream, and 
there it lay, emptied of everything except the smell of 
pork brine. One end of the wagon was beneath the 
surface of the stream, and the water rippled through 
and around it, while the dirty white cover flapped lazily 
in the breeze. 



118 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Such were some of the scenes we met in that country 
on that Sunday march. It seemed as if Sherman had 
used the country as the men did their shoes and their 
clothing — used it up and then dropped it in the dust. 

That night we arrived at Ringgold, a town somewhat 
larger than any we had passed through and decidedly 
more populous ; for, although the former inhabitants 
had, in great measure, disappeared, there were blue- 
coats enough to take their places. Here was another 
new and striking scene for me. In the place of white 
tents scattered through the fields, there were the yellow- 
white covers of army wagons, drawn up on the lawns 
beside the road. They were the baggage and supply 
wagons of Sherman's army, which could not now be far 
in advance of us. In these wagons, also, I found most 
positive proof that we were not advancing alone into 
the enemy's country, but that not far away, though 
hidden now by intervening hills, we should find the 
encampment of friends. I even went so far as to care- 
fully scan the country in front of me, to see if I could 
catch the gleam of a tent. 

While some of the boys were building a fire, I started, 
coffee-pot in hand, for a well that stood near and, while 
waiting among a crowd of others for my turn at the 
bucket, I noticed, a short distance away, a pretentious- 
looking mansion, which must have belonged to the 
village magnate. The air of former grandeur and 
present desolation that pervaded it attracted me so 
strongly that I approached it to get a better view. 

No noise broke the stillness surrounding the place, 
nothing was heard except the rumble of some distant 
wagon or the low growls of the tired and foot-sore 
soldiers about the well. The doors to the house were 
gone ; the windows were open, and without shutters or 
curtains ; everything wide open and staring, like the 



THE GUN-BEARER. 119 

eyes of a dead man. Tastefully laid-out flower beds 
were trampled out of all shape ; urns had been over- 
turned and broken, and the contents, roots and mold, 
scattered over the trodden turf. All around lay broken 
pieces of crockery and of furniture. The marble steps 
and the floor of the veranda were covered with dust 
and dented with musket butts. Inside, I saw what had 
once been a piano ; the cover off, the strings all broken 
and snarled, and a jagged hole in the sounding board, 
where a musket butt had been smashed down through 
it, shredding it into splinters ; and as if this were not 
enough, the keys of the piano had been broken and 
some of them were sticking straight up into the air. 

If the house and its contents had been fired and con- 
sumed, I should have passed the place without thought ; 
but, standing, as it did, in desolation and ruin, with that 
unmusical ghost of luxury in the parlor, it left a picture 
in my mind that I would gladly be freed from ; a pic- 
ture which is like a lasting reproach. . 

But little time was left me for gloomy reflections as 
I was soon startled into consciousness of myself and 
my duties on that occasion, by the voice of one of our 
company who, in language more emphatic than choice, 
demanded what I was doing there with the family 
coffee-pot ? 

That evening I hurried through supper, that I might 
use the fading daylight to add a few more lines to the 
letter that, at every opportunity for several days, I had 
been writing to Mary. Not an hour slipped by without 
some thought of her ; not a day without some addition 
to this letter, which I had carried in my knapsack. At 
Point Burnside the mail had arrived regularly ; but, 
since the day of our leaving that place, I had received 
no letter, and, compelled to be satisfied with the ones I 
already had, I lived in anticipation of the one that must 



120 THE GUN-BEARER. 

be waiting for me with the army in front. This even- 
ing, not knowing how long it might be before our regi- 
ment would be plunged into the very heart of strife, I 
was especially anxious to improve the opportunity for 
writing. 

I had now determined to bring my letter to a close, 
so as to post it in Ringgold, but it was a hard thing for 
me to do ; there were so many little things to be said, 
so many pledges to be repeated, that I lingered over 
the epistle until the daylight was all spent ; then, under 
the shadow of the rapidly approaching night, I folded 
up the letter, and, almost with a wish that I might carry 
it myself, placed it in the bag with other mail for the 
north. 

After this I joined Fred, Jake and others of our com- 
pany, who were just starting out to find the provost 
guard, and from this source learn the latest news. 

We did not find the provost guard, but discovered a 
group of wagoners, which answered our purpose quite 
as well. 

The wagons were standing on the turf of an unfenced 
yard beside the road, and in their order of arrangement 
formed a crescent, between the arms of which brightly 
blazed a most extravagant fire, that lighted up a picture 
of camp-life comfort which left nothing to be desired. 
The men looked contented, fresh and must have been 
supremely happy in the knowledge that, when ordered 
to move forward, they could either ride or walk, as best 
suited them ; and they seemed to be experts in the art 
of " taking things easy." There were men reclining on • 
wagon tongues, others seated by the fire, and others 
luxuriously stretched at full length on wagon seats, • 
lazily watching the play of light and shadow on the 
scene in front. 

They were evidently just finishing supper, as some of 






THE GUN-BEARER. 121 

them still held half-emptied dippers of coffee ; while 
others, with pipes already lighted, were enjoying- a 
quiet smoke. Somebody was saying as we came 
up: 

" It 's surprising how well they do feed us !" 

" I tell you," said another, " there 's many a poor 
chap in the army, doing garrison duty at some fort, 
struggling with salt horse and smacking his lips over 
it ; while we, always on the move, get fresh beef," and 
the speaker jerked the coffee dregs out of his dipper 
under the wagon behind me. " But, hello ! Who 
comes here ?" 

All eyes were instantly turned toward us, and one 
man, while he gazed at us inquiringly, said, in reply to 
the last speaker : 

" Yes, and we are goin' to have it right along ! The 
old man " [meaning Sherman] " knows enough to keep 
communication with his base of supplies and good food 
coming forward all the time." Then to us, while he 
puffed hard at a short clay pipe : " Reckon you belong 
to that new regiment, don't you ?" 

It occurred to me at that moment that I had never 
before heard so harsh a voice. 

" Yes," I answered. 

" What may it be ?" 

" Twelfth Kentucky." 

" What division ?" 

" Cox's," said Fred. 

" That's the Twenty-third Corps, Scofield's !" 

" You 're right," we answered. 

" Have some coffee ?" 

" No, been to supper," responded Fred. 

We advanced to the fire, took positions that suited us 
best, and opened on the mule drivers with our questions, 
Jake being the first to speak, 



122 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" What 's goin' on ? Why are you all here ?" he asked 
with his usual drawl, addressing no one in particular. 

Two or three made ready to reply, but he of the 
harsh voice and the obstinate pipe, anticipating the 
others, replied : 

" You see, the old man's got things about right to 
begin work, and he 's begun. Ain't he, boys ?" 

" Yes," one or two voices replied, and one pleasant- 
voiced fellow near me continued, this time getting the 
start of the harsh voice : 

" One fine morning, two days ago, the boys got orders 
to lay in ten days' rations, and started off ; they left all 
the baggage wagons here." 

" They 11 be back in about four days," interrupted 
the harsh voice. 

" Don't you believe it," said the pleasant voice. 
" They won't be back here for some time. Old Sher- 
man is goin' to push the Johnnies, as they were never 
pushed before." 

" How many men are there with Sherman ?" asked 
Fred. 

" Some say one figure, and some another, but they 
all fix it about one hundred thousand." 

" Is this all the baggage there is ?" I asked with a 
surprised look at the little groups of wagons. 

"That 's what it is, baggages for the whole army, 
'cept what the company mules took." 

" How is that ?" I asked ; but, feeling immediately 
that this was a question calculated to show my ignor- 
ance, I glanced at Fred's face to see if he disapproved- 
of it. Judge of my silent relief when I saw plainly 
that he was as much in the dark as I had been. 

" You see," said our pleasant friend in explanation, 
"each company has a mule and a darkey to drive it, and 
between the two they carry all the cooking things." 









THE GUN-BEARER. 123 

" Oh, I tell you," said the harsh voice, " the old man 
knows how to save lugging, and they do say that the 
boys have better fixin's than the general officers." 

" But where 's our division ?" asked Fred of a soldier 
between him and me. 

" Let me see," said the man addressed ; then, taking 
his pipe out of his mouth, cried : 

" Say, Bill, where 's Scofield and the Twenty-third 
Corps ? Down at the Roost ?" 

" Yes," answered Bill, from the other side of the fire. 

" Well, Bill, you are wrong for once," said somebody 
at my elbow, who up to this time had taken no part in 
the conversation. Noticing how the others stopped to 
listen to what more this quiet man might say, I con- 
cluded that he must be the wagonmaster, as he was 
looked upon as an authority. 

" Wrong, am I ?" cried Bill. " What did that darkey 
say who came in last night ? Didn't he say that the 
rebs held the Gap and our boys were marching up 
to it?" 

" Certainly," the quiet man assented. 

" Then what 's the matter with what I said ?" asked 
Bill in an aggrieved tone. 

" Oh, dry up, Bill," cried several voices in a chorus. 

" The boys want to find their division. Let the boss 
tell 'em where it is. He knows more about it than you 
do." 

"What is this Buzzard's Roost, and where is it?" 
asked Fred of the wagonmaster, to change the conver- 
sation. 

" The Roost is a cliff, and overlooks a deep gap which 
divides the ridge of Rocky Face, and lies away off down 
yonder to the southeast " [pointing in that direction] 
" about fifteen miles or such a matter. The Rocky Face 
Ridge is a chain of break-neck hills several miles long, 



124 THE GUN-BEARER. 

and running north and south. Dalton, which I make 
out is Sherman's present objective point, is just in 
behind the south end of this ridge. The rebels are 
now using this ridge as a fort, and they are spread out 
along the top of it the whole length ; and at the north 
end they turn off to the east at right angles and spread 
out across a railroad that runs into Dalton on the other 
side of Rocky Face. They have centered in one or two 
places, and the Roost is one of them." 

" That's all right enough," cried Bill, " but to get at 
Dalton without leaving the railroad, we 've got to drive 
the rebs away from Buzzard's Roost so that we can 
follow the other railroad through the Gap." 

" That 's what Thomas is trying to do. You see," 
said the wagonmaster turning to us, " this railroad, that 
runs through Ringgold, enters Dalton through the Gap 
in Rocky Face, under Buzzard's Roost, and Thomas is 
down there with the Army of the Cumberland, the 
Fourth, Fourteenth and Twentieth Army Corps, trying 
his prettiest to get through, judging by the firing we 
heard this morning." 

" But isn't the Army of the Ohio there, too ?" ques- 
tioned Bill. 

" Of course not. You ought to know that. We 've 
not seen anything of that corps yet, and we would 
have had sight of it if it had gone down. Besides, two 
days ago, which was before Thomas's army left here, 
Scofield, with the Twenty-third Corps, was at Red Clay, 
a long stretch off to the northeast ; but I heard them 
say that when Thomas moved from here to Tunnel 
Hill — a hill between the Ridge and the Roost, so called 
because the railroad tunneled it — Scofield came just over 
the hills yonder " [pointing behind him to the north- 
east] " to Catoosa Springs. Now, I reckon, he 's spread 
out in line about east of here, facing the south, and 



THE GUN-BEARER. 125 

trying to force that wing - of the rebs, which I told yon 
runs out east from Rocky Face." 

" Then, to reach our corps," said Fred, " we must 
leave the railroad and start off across the country to 
the east ?" 

" That 's about it," the quiet man assented, " if you 
want to go right away ; but, in my opinion, you '11 meet 
them in an easier way. McPherson, with the Army of 
the Tennessee, is far away to the south, a long piece 
beyond Thomas's, and you may be sure he is there for 
a purpose. If you start off down the railroad to- 
morrow, I shouldn't wonder if, by the time you arrive 
near the Roost, you should find that Thomas had al- 
ready pushed through. In that case you '11 be pretty 
sure to meet your corps somewhere on the road ; either 
on this or the other side of Buzzard's Roost Gap. Ac- 
cording as they march into Dalton direct from where 
they are now or come around to this side of Rocky 
Face and follow this railroad in." 

" Well," drawled Jake, with a yawn and a stare of 
amazement at the wagonmaster, " it is pretty evident 
that there is something goin' on, and I guess we'll get 
our share of it ; but I am dead tired, and going to turn 
in." 

" Oh, you'll be in the thick of it before long, make no 
mistake," some one cried laughingly after him as he 
went away. 

Fred and I stayed but a short time to finish our pipes, 
and then we also turned in. 

It was very strange how all my ideas of war had 
changed since my joining the regiment. This was due 
to the fact that my companions were veterans. Hearing 
them talk so much of their battles, a feeling of contempt 
for danger began to pervade me ; then, too, when I first 
joined the regiment, I had an indefinite idea that there 



126 THE GUN-BEARER 

would be firing and bloodshed right away. I lived in 
daily expectation of it ; but, as days passed, and, much 
to my surprise, nothing of the kind occurred, this feel- 
ing of suspense gradually yielded to one of indifference. 

I had been wearing the blue for three months, and no 
sign of the enemy had I seen or heard, except the hur- 
ried shots in the dark at Raccoon Bottom. And now I 
half expected to be cheated out of my glory, or that, 
when it did come, it would not realize my expecta- 
tions. 

I do not remember that I ever slept more soundly than 
I did that night, under the little five-by-six tent in Ring- 
gold, by the side of the baggage of Sherman's whole 
army, on the eve of the campaign against Atlanta. 





CHAPTER XI. 

Monday morning dawned fair. Our little camp was 
broken early and, after several hours consumed in serv- 
ing out rations, we were again in marching trim. From 
this time forth we were going forward like other regi- 
ments, prepared for days of hard fighting and forced 
marches, and where the opportunities for foraging 
would be few and far between. The cool part of the 
forenoon had passed before we were able to move, so 
that when we did leave Ringgold and the baggage- 
wagons the sun was high and shining hot upon our 
heads. 

Beside the heat of the sun there were added to our 
other discomforts the extra rations, which were a load 
in themselves, and the fact that we were hurried along 
without the usual frequent halts. Under these condi- 
tions we had put miles behind us before we saw the 
head of the column break and scatter to rest by the 
roadside. 

" Here," cried Fred, when the halt was called, and 
running, as fast as his weary legs could carry him, to a 
little grass-covered knoll about one hundred feet from 
the road — " here 's a good place." 

But I was already at his side, throwing off my accou- 
terments previous to stretching myself at length on 
the dusty but welcome grass. 

[127] 



128 THE GUN-BEARER 

" This has been the worst day yet," I said, throwing 1 
myself down by the side of my cousin and pillowing 
my head on my blankets. 

"Boom!" 

" Hello ! what 's that — thunder ?" asked Fred, ex- 
citedly, scanning the sky as he raised himself with a 
jerk to his elbow and listened intently. 

" It sounded to me like a salute being fired from a 
gun, far away," I replied. 

" Boom ! Boom I" 

" That 's a fight for sure, and at Buzzard's Roost," 
said Jake, eagerly, who had also raised himself on his 
elbow to listen. 

" Reckon you 're right," responded Fred, as he re- 
sumed a prostrate position. " Well, we '11 be into it 
soon enough. It *s so long since I 've heard a gun that 
thunder was the first idea which that firing put into 
my head." 

I lay for a few moments listening to this distant 
booming of cannon and then sat up to see what the 
veterans thought of it. But they seemed quiet and, 
for the most part, indifferent ; many of them, indeed, 
were already asleep. Only a few, here and there, gave 
the incident special attention and then, merely, to shout 
to some particular comrade that it sounded like old 
times or to make some similar remark. 

" Boom ! Boom ! Boom !" 

I listened earnestly, vainly trying to interpret those 
voices of war ; as if perchance they might tell me 
which side was speaking at that moment and with what, 
effect. The sound was low-toned and drawn out by 
the distance, lonesome, and like a note of warning ; but 
it seemed innocent enough to me, and try as I would I 
could not connect it with battle or bloodshed. 

There was an air of excitement and threatening in 



THE GUN-BEARER. 129 

it, but to me it awakened no personal experience, pre- 
sented no picture of men falling dead in heaps. It was 
to me the beginning of a new experience ; the first few 
drops of a protracted storm into which I was about to 
enter. Who could predict how I should come out of it ? 

For some time we lay and listened to the sounds 
which came to us — sometimes singly, then in groups, 
and again in confusion — until the cry, " Fall in !" 
brought us once more to a sense of the present. 

Hour after hour we plodded on, the sounds of battle 
becoming louder and more and more distinct, until Fred 
said he thought he could hear infantry. 

I could not tell, although I stopped to listen. For me 
there was only a confused roar of sounds, some louder 
than others, but I did not know enough at that time to 
distinguish the different reports ; later, however, as we 
lessened the distance to the conflict, I was aware that 
the intervals between the roar of cannon were filled 
with lesser noises, which the initiated recognized and 
pronounced musketry. 

At last we reached an elevation not far from Tunnel 
Hill, and from this point saw, rising like a wall before 
us, but still far away across the valley, the rugged, pre- 
cipitous sides of Rocky Face Ridge, full of such lights 
and shadows as are made by ravines and jutting ledges. 
There was also a lofty, darkly-frowning wall, with a 
crest cut out in rugged peaks and hollows that stood out 
in clear relief against the blue and white sky beyond. 

To the left, directly across the valley from where we 
stood, the ridge came to an end, sinking rapidly to a 
much lower level ; but away to the right there seemed 
to be no limit, and the ridge in this direction extended 
away off until it met the sky. Even the gateway in the 
Gap, under Buzzard's Roost, was not visible, as we were 
not in a position to see through it. 



130 THE GUN-BEARER. 

We could determine, from what the wagonmaster 
had told us, where it should be, by a little sharper 
indentation in the outline, by heavier shadows, and 
because, in this neighborhood, the smoke of the battle 
seemed to be the thickest. But we were still too far 
away to distinguish individuals. Masses of men, when 
not concealed in the shadows of trees, were, however, 
distinctly visible. We could see, also, the flash of guns 
and the lasting color of flags moving hither and thither, 
sometimes shining brightly in the sunlight, at others 
almost vanishing in shadow or in smoke. 

The crest of the ridge occupied by the Confederates, 
from the north end, nearest us, and away to the south, 
as far as we could see, was alive with men and spark- 
ling with fire, while from every shadowy ravine that 
scarred the sides of Rocky Face our troops were send- 
ing out flashes in reply ; and from the whole surface 
thin wreaths of smoke were rising and drifting off 
among the leaves and blasted tree-tops, just as I have 
seen the steam creeping up from the shingles of our 
cottage roof, wet from melted snow. 

As we have been told, the Roost was the center of 
attack. There was the meeting-place and crash of 
battle. Heavy banks of smoke were floating away 
from this section, and the air above was dotted with 
fleecy puffs of smoke from bursting shell. 

It was a sight full of grandeur, and terrible — to me, 
at least — was its import. 

My heart for a moment stood still, but the intoxica- 
tion of such excitement was not to be resisted, and it • 
resumed its beating with such force that the blood 
surged to my finger-tips. I would have rushed wildly 
to take part in the struggle had not the distance and 
the calmer actions of others restrained me. 

I looked in the faces of my companions ; there w^s 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



131 



fire in every eye, buoyant firmness in every step, as 
steadily, surely, but not one second faster, they marched 
on and on. Despite the impatience burning in their 
hearts, their movements were as orderly and methodical, 
and their bearing as unchanged, as if the battle smoke 
were harmless mist and the roar of guns but the wind 
moaning among the trees. 

But as we advance with eyes fixed on the scene of 
strife, the sun sets, the firing gradually slackens, ceases, 
and the battle is over ; and when, as night fell, we 
reached the rear of our lines, instead of fitful flashes, 
the steady blaze of numberless camp-fires lit up the 
scene. 

About these fires thousands and thousands of tired 
soldiers were gathered, each telling his own story of 
the battle. 





CHAPTER XII. 



There are those ever ready with brilliant pens and 
standing far enough removed from any corporeal in- 
terest, if such expression be permitted concerning the 
strife of those two great armies camped so near to- 
gether, who might have grasped the scene on that first 
night we pitched our tents with Sherman's army, and 
from their serene point of view have given a lucid 
bird's-eye view of the whole situation. I saw what was 
in my neighborhood only. 

They would have painted in well-chosen phrases the 
picture of that long valley, lying to the west along the 
base of Rocky Face, all sparkling with union camp 
fires, in the light of which were to be seen horses, cais- 
sons, cannon and tents and men, everywhere. Men hard 
at work as were the surgeons about the blazing fires of 
the field hospitals ; men as couriers hurrying with dis- 
patches from camp to camp ; men at rest, as most of 
them were, grouped about the fires or dozing far apart 
beneath the trees. 

Mill creek would have been sketched as a muddy 

little stream, hedged on either side by a thicket of bush 

and creeping gloomily, stealthily along by the side of 

our camp to pass beneath Buzzard's Roost into the 

[132] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 133 

Confederate lines, unseen, except where in a few places 
our fires extended to its bank, and reddened it with their 
reflection. 

Beyond this, it would have been noted that Rocky- 
Face Ridge reared its ponderous mass, blacker than 
the night itself, until the eye of the observer reached 
the top, which sparkled and scintillated with hostile 
fires — all in striking contrast to the blinking stars and 
slowly-drifting clouds above. 

But the enemy did not have all of that long ridge to 
themselves. Our boys had fought that day to some 
purpose. They had won their way a little distance, at 
least, up its craggy sides, among the rocks and stunted 
trees. The northern slopes were ours, and we, camping 
near this upper end while eating supper, cast many 
wondering, curious glances along that line of friendly 
fires, following it away up the slope to where it stopped 
and a broad belt of darkness separated it from the 
enemy. 

These fires seemed to beckon us ; and when our meal 
was over, and it was arranged that some of us might 
leave camp, my fatigue vanished and I joined Fred and 
two or three others who were going on a tour of in- 
vestigation. 

As we climbed the hill our attention was attracted by 
one especially brilliant fire. We found about it the 
usual camp scene, men lounging about, sipping coffee, 
smoking and chatting, while some were cleaning their 
weapons. The excitement of the late struggle seemed 
to have disappeared with its smoke and grime, for these 
men conversed in low, quiet tones. 

The hands that poured the coffee or lit the pipes 
were steady enough ; it was only in the nervous, re- 
strained laugh that they betrayed any trace of the 
excitement of the day. 



13-1 THE GUN-BEARER. 

As we advanced into the light and drew near the fire 
we were greeted with : 

" In the advance to-day ?" 

" No," we answered. 

" What regiment ?" 

"Twelfth Kentucky." 

" That 's a fightin' regiment. Part of Reilly's old 
brigade ?" 

"Yes," Fred remarked in a quiet way, in answer. 

" S'pose you had a taste of tumblin' over the rocks 
like the rest of us ?" 

" No," said Fred ; "we 're only just from Ringgold." 

"What !" exclaimed our interrogator. " The Twelfth 
Kentucky, and not in a fight ?" 

" This is the time we missed it. We veteranized a 
couple of months ago, had a furlough, and have only 
just now turned up for another three years." 

" Well, that beats me ! The Twelfth Kentucky and 
not — Oh, well, you 're here early enough. Been to 
supper ? Have ? Well, take some coffee with us, any- 
how. Here you, Fattie " [to a veteran, who seemed to 
have the coffee-pot under his special charge], " pass these 
comrades some coffee." 

Fattie, who was tall and as thin as a rail, duly obeyed, 
handing us the boiling-hot, inky, aromatic fluid in 
blackened, dented cups. 

We sat down by the fire, sipped the coffee and soon 
learned that the regiment to which this group belonged 
was part of Newton's Division of the Fourth Army 
Corps, and that they had been in a skirmishing line all 
day. 

In answer to a question as to what they had done 
that day, one emphatic man they called Sandy cried : 

" What have we done ? Look you ! You see those camp 
fires down there ?" pointing to the valley. " Well, they 



THE GUN-BEARER. 135 

have not moved. They were there in the same place 
last night ; but here, last night the rebs slept. We 
drove 'em out to-day, we did. It cost us heavy, but we 
did it." 

" You 're right, it cost us heavy," said another voice. 
" How they picked us off ! But what a charge that was 
over such a mass of loose rock, and in the face of such 
a fire. Pratt and Sager fell first, away down in the 
bottom yonder, just after we started. While we were 
running up Magoun, just to the left of me, stumbled on 
a tilting rock. I had to laugh to see him run along on all 
fours before he could recover. But he had only just 
got straightened up, poor fellow, when over he went 
for good. That brought Ripley next to me in the line, 
but we hadn't gone a dozen rods together when he cried 
out : ' Oh, Bill !' and dropped. Clark, Kelley and Booth 
fell at the same time just about here ; and just on the 
edge of the ridge out yonder, we left the orderly and 
Tom Cranford — and I know there was a heap more 
from some of the other companies dropped in the same 
place." 

" What, did you get much further up ?" asked Fred. 

" You bet we did," he replied, " and our pickets are 
out there now, I reckon, but it costs, it costs, just as 
Sandy says. They dropped us along here pretty thick, 
and it got to be mighty lonesome before we came to the 
end of the race." 

" Lonesome," echoed the deep-toned voice of a gray- 
bearded Illinoisan. " You were all together when you 
started out of the woods below, on that double quick 
up the hill, a-dodging from stump to rock, and from 
rock to tree, but I was away out on the left of the line 
and, somehow, in spite of all I could do, I kept getting 
farther and farther away from you, and edging toward 
the gulley which separated us from Company H. No 



136 THE GUN-BEARER. 

mistake about it, the Johnnies were too many for me. 
Shot and shell were falling like rain out there, and the 
ground was getting a terrible sweeping." He paused 
as though to put back the thoughts that were crowding 
upon him, but as the rest of us waited for him to con- 
tinue, he took up the story again. 

" While I tried to get back into my old spot, a piece 
of shell struck my gunstock, knocked it into splinters, 
and laid me flat as a pancake. I thought I was done 
for. Oh, you needn't smile, you fellows, you have been 
through the same thing yourselves, but I soon found 
out what the trouble was, and that I was not hurt much. 
Of course, I was no good without a gun, and so I held 
back until I could get one. In a few minutes a fellow 
just ahead of me, threw up his hands and fell backward. 
This was my chance and I soon had the gun he dropped. 
'T was barber Jim," [falteringly] "you all know him — of 
Company H — Jim, when I reached him, was trying to 
cover with his hand a hole in his breast that looked al- 
most large enough to put your fist in. The blood was 
running out between his fingers, and such a pitiful look 
as poor Jim gave me, as I took up his rifle and hurried 
away. I tell you what, boys," [and the bronzed face of 
the speaker beamed on the upturned faces around him] 
" I 'm right glad to get back to the company again. 
I 've been in a good many skirmish lines before, but 
never in one when I was so blamed lonesome as to-day." 

" Begorra, and its meself that 's always lonesome in a 
skirmish," observed one of the listeners. " Sure, there 's 
no fun in it at all, at all ; a man 's always alone in such 
work, wid divil a sowl near him. I always feel as if 
every Johnnie had his murtherin' eye on me. By the 
same token, it 's Pat Cragin that would rather be at 
home carrying the hod, than standing up and stoppin' 
bullets for the rebs. Holy Mother, there 's the liftinint, 



THE GUN-BEARER. 137 

and him we left on the crust up yonder wid a hole in 
his head." 

" Only stunned a little, that's all," quietly observed 
the officer, who at this moment emerged from the dark- 
ness beyond, and was passing near enough to be seen 
by the light of the fire. 

" Sure it 's meself that 's glad to hear you say so," 
answered Pat ; and, as our little group watched the 
officer until he disappeared in the darkness, he con- 
tinued, speaking lower : " There goes a foine officer ; 
divil a better ever drew a sword or led a charge. If he 
ever gets his min into trouble, bedad, but he 's the boy 
that can get them out. I like him better 'n I did the 
cap'n, poor felly." 

After this there was a moment of silence, for Cragin's 
homely words had struck responsive chords in many 
breasts, and afterward the talk became general. While 
many little dialogues were passing among the boys who 
had come up with me and the soldiers about the camp-fire, 
I turned to Cragin, who was sitting just at my left, and 
asked if he thought there would be any fighting the 
next day. 

" Fittin', is it ? Faith, 'nd ye may just count on that 
same. We'll skirmish to-morrow, just as we did to-day. 
Sure, we 're only keepin' the Johnnies busy till 
McPherson has a chance to get in his work ; that 's him 
down there," said Cragin, in explanation, pointing away 
out over the landscape into the darkness. 

"Where?" I asked, trying to follow the direction 
indicated. 

" The light from the fire *s too glaring to see it well. 
Just shade your eyes at the side a bit and look down 
there. Do you see a red glare in the sky ?" 

" I think I do." 

" Well, that 's him, and them 's McPherson's camp- 



138 THE GUN-BEARER. 

fires that 's reddenin' the clouds ! The old man wants 
McPherson or some of 'em to get round into the rear 
of the rebs. The divil fly away wid 'em. It takes 
a power of marching to satisfy Sherman ; but, begorra, 
it is the kind of marching that counts and makes the 
inimy skedaddle all the same !" 

It was a comfort for me to hear that tramping paid, 
and that it was bringing about the desired result. But 
what did that result signify to those who had that day 
fallen ? This was the question I pondered. However 
great the importance of this movement might be to 
Sherman and to the country, my mind refused to leave 
my individual prospects. I could see myself an actor in 
just such scenes as had been described. Henceforth, until 
the end, I was to be one of those who must do not only 
the marching but the skirmishing. 

How long would it be before I should find myself 
enveloped in that leaden storm ? How much time 
might there be left me to think of home and of those I 
loved ? How long would it be before Fred or Jake or 
some others of my company about their camp-fires 
might speak of me as these soldiers spoke of poor 
Tom Cranford ?" We left him just out on the ridge 
yonder." 

" Where were you to-day ?" asked Cragin, interrupting 
my melancholy dreaming. " What part of the line were 
yon in ?" and he looked at me from cap to shoes, as if it 
had just occurred to him that not only was I a stranger, 
but that my uniform was in pretty good condition for a 
veteran. 

I did not care to admit that I had never been under 
fire, at least where I could stand up and face it, and so 
replied that we were not in the engagement but had 
been marching all clay. 

" Well," replied Cragin, " that 's just the same wid 



THE GUN-BEARER. 139 

Sherman — some 's fightin' and some's marchin', but it 
all counts." 

Before a second opportunity occurred to question 
me, Fred and I walked away and approached another 
fire, where another group were listening to a soldier 
describing his experience. 

He was saying : 

" We kept a mighty good line, though I never saw 
men fight harder than those fellows did on the right. 
Every time I looked in that direction I saw their ram- 
rods twirling above their heads. They were regular 
killers ; at work by the day ; just as if the boss was 
standing over them. And then the charge ! Boys, 
they put such things down in history." Then, after a 
pause, during which his companions sat staring at the 
burning logs, trying to realize the glory of it after the 
fire had left their blood, he added : " But I do not be- 
lieve it was ever intended. It looked to me, then, and 
I think so now, that sombody lost his head when he 
ordered both the first and second charge. The idea of 
charging in a place like this, with the chances all in 
favor of the other side. Sherman don't do business in 
that way. I tell you, somebody blundered, and this is 
not the first time, either. I hope there won't be any 
more mistakes to-morrow."* 

I fervently echoed this wish, and we went back to 
our own camp. I had seen something of the day's 
fight, had heard the booming of the guns and the rattle 
of musketry, and there was an awful, fascinating real- 
ism in these simple stories. 

As I rolled myself up in my blankets on the ground 

* "The orders were not to waste life in serious assault upon intrench- 
ments, but the zeal of tlie troops and subordinate commanders turned the 
intended skirmish into something very like a ranged battle, and the Con- 
federate reports state that five separate aud regular assaults were made on 
their lines."— Cox's Atlanta. 



140 THE GUN-BEARER. 

and tried to sleep, my brain was in a whirl. I seemed 
to hear the heavy tramp of armies, the ringing cheers 
of charging infantry, the roar of artillery, the shriek of 
shell, the groans of wounded, dying men ; and then I 
thought myself all that was left of an unsupported line 
of skirmishers. The army to which I belonged had 
fallen back ; the enemy were advancing ; my com- 
panions had been picked off, one by one, until I stood 
alone, a target for a thousand rifles. Unable to move, 
and realizing I was dreaming, yet powerless to break 
the spell, I stood and waited for the end that I knew 
must come, when I was roused to consciousness by 
Fred, who said : 

" Seems to me you dropped to sleep mighty quick. 
The colonel has come. I got it from Black Lige. He 
says the colonel 's all broke up about the horses ; that 
he tried to get 'em, and tried hard ; that he left Point 
Burnside for that purpose ; but it's no go. He couldn't 
make it win. Sherman 's sorry ; but the change in the 
plans for the movement of the army makes it impossi- 
ble. The boys are satisfied it's all straight, and don't 
care now." 

I was too tired, too sleepy, to exhibit much interest 
in that almost forgotten subject, and dozed again. The 
silence and darkness deepened, the camp-fires burned 
low, and yet lower ; the forms that had been moving 
about me in the gloom disappeared, one by one. I 
listened a moment to the breeze as it freshened and 
died away, moaning and sighing through the tree-tops, 
and fell asleep. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Waking shortly after daylight, there came wafted to 
me, on the soft, dewy air of the morning, the warbling 
notes from some far-off bugle, sounding the reveille. 
An instant later, another bugle repeated the call more 
clearly. Another and yet another brazen throat re- 
sponded, nearer and nearer ; and now, as the piping of 
shrill-toned fifes and the heavy rolling of drums catch 
up and interpret the theme, the frowning cliffs of Rocky 
Face repeat and echo the medley of sounds until the 
air vibrates in all directions with martial music. 

The sputtering crack of rifle shots from along the 
summit of the ridge and the thundering of artillery — 
which had again opened on the enemy — now burst in 
upon the chorus and, with emphatic accompaniment, 
announced the day's work fairly begun. 

The previous evening had given me a glimpse of 
what one phase of my experience with Sherman's army 
was to be. The sounds and scenes of this morning 
presented the prospect to me from another point of 
view. 

Everything was new, strange and interesting ; so 
different from the quiet camp life from which we had 
come. 

Our position commanded a fine view of the plain, 

[Hi] 



142 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the open country to the south and of that section where 
a part of our army was concealed in the thick 
forest. 

The camps before us were springing into life. Thou- 
sands of smoke columns arose from plain and hill, 
mounted, until, caught by some passing current of air, 
they bent sidewise and floated out in waving pennants 
to a vanishing point. 

Thousands of soldier-cooks were preparing breakfast 
for myriads of hungry soldiers. 

Men were forming into companies and regiments and 
brigades, and marching, some in one direction, some in 
another. 

Batteries of artillery were hurrying off, sometimes 
along the roads, then across the fields, to disappear 
beneath the thatch of distant woods. 

Cavalrymen passed and repassed, leading riderless 
horses to and from the waters of Mill Creek. 

Locomotive whistles announced the frequent arrival 
of provision trains, from which supply wagons, moving 
every whither, were distributing hard tack, pork, coffee 
and ammunition. 

Occasionally a bit of color danced and waved in the 
sunlight on the heights above us, as a signal-flag com- 
municated a message to the officers below. 

We caught, now and then, glimpses of our troops and 
of the enemy, struggling away up among the trees and 
rocks of the ridge, while over all thin patches of light- 
blue smoke rose from the woods into the air and min- 
gling with the white puffs from bursting shell drifted 
away into the space beyond. 

It was a scene and a morning not easily to be for- 
gotten. 

It seemed hardly possible that all this stir and bustle 
could be the result of one general's planning, or that 



THE GUN-BEARER. 143 

one general could successfully control the movements 
of so many men ; but the boys, who knew, said : 

" The old man can win more battles, keep the enemy 
more continually on the retreat and lose fewer men 
than any other general in the army." 

" But how is it done ?" I asked Fred. " How does 
Sherman manage to keep control of his army ? How 
bring order out of this confusion ?" 

" Well, you see, Sherman plans the campaign. 
Through his engineers he gets the lay of the land 
and knows how to take advantage of it. The generals 
under Sherman are only his executives, who have care 
of the details. They are told where to go and what 
to do, and upon their careful obedience depends our 
success. Generals are born, not made. Shoulder straps 
never planned a campaign nor won a battle." 

The arrival of the colonel was, naturally, the first 
subject for discussion ; but this event, aside from the 
letters he brought from headquarters, created no stir, 
awoke no feeling of resentment. The boys seemed to 
be satisfied that he had done all that man could do to 
redeem the promise he had made, and some even went 
so far as to say that the less we said about horses the 
better. Even Jake, now we were at the front, was con- 
tent without horses, and so expressed himself. 

Breakfast eaten, tents and blankets rolled up and 
guns carefully cleaned and made ready for use, we 
awaited orders. While we were waiting, taking in the 
surrounding scenery, " Black Lige " happened to pass, 
and Jake hailed him with : 

" Ho, Lige ! Has the colonel got his orders ?" 

" Yes ; he 's got 'em fer sure. I done heered de cap'n 
say dis mawnin' dat we 's a goine ter jine Scofield ter- 
day." 

' ! Did he say where Schofield was, Lige ?" I asked. 



144 THK GUN-BEARER. 

" No, maws' Dan. He done say nuffin 'bout it 'cept 
wut I tell yer." 

" Fall in men, fall in," called the voice of our or- 
derly. 

" That 's the talk," said Jake. " We '11 get our share 
now, and when we get a chance, we '11 give the Johnnies 
the best we 've got in the shop." 

In a few moments we were in line, facing the south 
and quickly after, at the tap of the drum, amid rumble 
and rattle on every hand, we marched along the plain 
about two miles until near Rays Gap ; then, turning 
east, crossed Mill Creek, and climbed to the crest of the 
ridge, fully seven hundred feet above the base of the 
mountain. 

What a climb that was ! Scarcely a breath of air 
stirred in the woods ; the atmosphere was hot and 
stifling, and the ascent both difficult and hazardous. 
We were all in high spirits, however, notwithstanding 
the heat, and it mattered little to us that the battle was 
not far away. 

Up the side of this natural fortification, which con- 
tinually impressed us with a sense of its magnitude, 
over the rocks, now to the left, turning and winding, 
on, up and through a forest of stunted pines and a 
tangled undergrowth that filled the narrow clefts and 
crevices in this well named rocky ridge, we climbed, 
tumbled, slipped, scrambled and forced our way until 
late in the afternoon when we came to a halt near 
some of the Ohio regiments of Schofield's Division. 

What a country was spread out before us ! To the 
west of the open plain below were to be seen only deep 
valleys, densely wooded forests and the rugged chains 
of rock which ribbed and intersected this region in 
every direction. 

To the south the corrugated surfaces of Rocky Face 



THE GUN-BEARER. 145 

stretched away until it's identity was lost in a back- 
ground of distant hills beyond. 

Eastward the scene was of panoramic beauty. 
Dalton lay below us, close to the railroad, and not 
more than two miles distant. 

Nature had done much to make Dalton defensible, 
but added to it was the ingenuity of Southern engi- 
neers. For miles around the town we could see a series 
of ridges, which, with jutting spurs, stretched out in 
every direction ; lower than Rocky Face, but much 
more valuable to the enemy, on account of their near- 
ness to the town and the ease with which they might 
be occupied and converted into strong defensive out- 
posts. 

Creeks and rivers threaded the landscape, which was 
dotted here and there with houses, while away to the 
south and east we saw the blue summits of the hills that 
curtained Resaca. 

The air was better on the ridge ; and while we rested 
there, eating our dinner, and enjoying it, too, Kimball, 
who had been quietly taking stock of our surroundings, 
said, as if to himself : 

" What a place for defense ! The whole army of the 
North couldn't storm this ridge and capture it. See 
the chances here for sharpshooters ! Why, they could 
pick off skirmishers as easy as you 'd pick blackberries 
from a well-filled vine, and not stand in fear of a 
scratch." 

" 'Nd just look at the loose rock lyin* around here," 
interrupted Jake, who had been listening ; " 's almost 
as good as ammunition itself." 

" Sherman don't mean to give the enemy any such 
advantage as this over him, I know," continued Kim- 
ball. " He '11 drive him out of here, and he won't do it 
in the way Johnston wants him to, either. After this 



146 THE GUN-BEARER. 

comes Dalton ; just look at it ! But that '11 go in the 
same way as Rocky Face." 

" That 's right," responded Jake ; " but, as one of 
those Illinois men said last night, it 's going to take a 
heap of marching to do it. Well, let it come ; I 'm 
ready, and want to be moving, seeing and doing some- 
thing. I reckon the colonel 's gone to report to Scho- 
field, ain't he, sergeant ?" speaking to the orderly who 
was standing near. 

" Yes," replied the sergeant ; " and we'll lie here 
until we hear from him." 

Here was an opportunity to read my letters, of which 
I had three — two from Mary and one from mother. To 
be sure, I was occasionally interrupted by the booming 
notes of artillery, the crash of bursting shell, the- crack 
of rifles and the "zip "or "ping" of bullets as they 
passed by ; but though all of these sounds were new to 
me and caused me no little nervousness, my interest in 
the letters never flagged, and I read them through to 
the end. 

Mother inclosed in her letter a pressing invitation 
from Edith Miller, the deacon's daughter, to visit Way- 
town. 

" Come to Waytown again," she said, "and come to stay. I 
need your kindly advice so much in my trouble. Father died 
shortly after you left, and mother died scarcely a month since, 
and you will see that I am alone, with no one to advise me. 
Won't you please come ? There are matters here of very great 
importance to you, and you must come and see to them. I can- 
not take ' no ' for an answer." 

Of course, my mother wondered what it could all 
mean, and referring to her reply, said she would have 
accepted the invitation if it had not been for my ab- 
sence, but that under the circumstances she could not, 
for the present, think of it. 

Mary's letters — ah, well, no language can describe 



THE GUN-BEARER. 147 

the comfort and encouragement I derived from these 
outpourings of a loving heart. They were all that 
could be hoped for from the pen of a true-hearted 
woman, and were read and reread for days and weeks 
afterward — the same old story, but always appealing, 
always new. 

The rest of the day was spent in listening to sounds 
of the conflict still raging at Buzzard's Roost, watching 
the movements of the troops below us, the plain being 
gradually deserted, and chatting with some of the 
Ohio boys. From this source of information we learned 
that thus far the Twenty-third Corps had been used as 
a flanking corps, and that Sherman's movements were 
based on this part of his army as a pivot, swinging to 
the right or left as occasion demanded. 

" How long he '11 keep this thing up 's hard to say," 
said one of our informants, speculatively ; " but I allow 
he 's goin' to keep at it, for we „'ve already heard we 're 
goin' to git out o' this in the morning." 

After supper, consisting of salt pork, hard tack and 
cold water, for we were not permitted to build fires on 
the Ridge, we put in the time as best we could, chat- 
ting, observing the lights in Dalton as they flashed out 
one by one in the darkness settling on the rapidly 
fading landscape, and then curled up under our blan- 
kets as comfortably as the rocky nature of the ground 
would permit, and went to sleep. 

I expected that the next day would certainly bring 
me face to face with the enemy, but in this I was dis- 
appointed, for when the day broke we were marched 
back over about the same stony ground we had strug- 
, gled over the day before. 

The whole of the Twenty-third Corps was with us 
this time, for to the right or left, as the openings in the 
trees or between the hills permitted, we saw the whole 



148 THE GUN-BEARER. 

landscape was full of bluecoats, all marching in a direc- 
tion parallel to our own. Away off to the south we 
heard the roar of battle. Behind us, far to the rear, a 
stray shot or two, perhaps, but nearer us only the usual 
sounds of the march, the clatter of tinware at our belts, 
the restless tap of a drum here and there, the profane 
clamor of artillerymen struggling- to extricate a gun or 
wagon from some muddy creek. If we were retreating 
what were we retreating from ? There was not a gray- 
coat to be seen, and no sounds that I called alarming 
in our rear, and our movements, though somewhat 
guarded, did not resemble what I imagined a retreat 
must be. Nor did the talk of those about me give me 
any suggestion. There were the usual growls at the 
roughness of the way, but aside from that no one 
seemed to care whither we were marched or what the 
reason of the movement was. 

When one sees hundreds of others doing the same 
thing he is doing, and without a sign of anxiety as to 
the result or of criticism as to the method pursued, it 
soon becomes difficult to maintain even a small amount 
of private worry. 

Wednesday was spent in camp or in lines of battle. 
We did not move much, and reports that the enemy 
were advancing on us under cover of some woods at no 
great distance from our lines, kept my nerves always at 
a tension. Shortly after dinner we were called again 
to the front, and it seemed, by the look of expec- 
tation in our officers' eyes, that this time the graycoats 
must be certainly advancing. We stood and waited, 
hearing and seeing nothing. 

Suddenly there was a great cheering, away off to the 
left of the line ; other regiments near us took up the 
cry. 

" What is it ?" I asked, somewhat anxiously. 



THE GUN-BEARER. i 149 

" Look ! Look ! There 's Stoneman's cavalry. Hurrah, 
hurrah !" cried Jake at my elbow, pointing to the left. 

A body of horsemen were charging out of the woods 
into the open ground. 

It was an inspiring sight, and I swung my cap and 
shouted with the rest : " Hurrah ! Hurrah !" On they 
went, line after line coming into view, a dense mass 
flying over the green earth like the black shadow of a 
cloud. 

There were but two or three thousand of them, a 
drop in the bucket in comparison with the hundred 
thousand hid away in the miles of woods between us 
and the place far away to the south where McPherson's 
guns were booming. Yet it seemed as if nothing but 
the cold hard rocks of mother earth, nothing of flesh 
and blood could withstand that onward rush of men 
and horses. They looked all that has ever been said of 
them, daring, reckless, confident. There was an easy 
swing and rhythm about their motion that almost set me 
dancing. I gazed at them admiringly. 

A wild yell pierced the air, sabers flashed in the sun- 
light and I saw Wheeler's cavalry debouching swiftly 
from the opposite woods. 

Nearer and nearer they came together — these two 
ponderous masses. My breath came in gasps with ex- 
citement, in expectation of the conflict. I imagined 
that when they came together I would hear a crash 
like the crash of an avalanche when it reaches the 
valley. I braced myself for the shock as if, when those 
two masses met, a heavy weight would strike me also 
in the chest. But when they had charged — to within a 
rod of each other I should think — a shrill bugle sounded 
the retreat, and the enemy turned and rode swiftly 
away. 

"That was just a scare," said Kimball. " They only 



150 THE GUN-BEARER. 

wanted to find out whether we were in force or 
not." 

I thought of the old saw, " A man might as well be 
killed as be scared to death," but simply looked wise, 
smiled and said nothing. 

"A cavalry charge 's a grand sight," continued Kim- 
ball, encouraged by my attention. A grand sight ! It 's 
like a living ram, to batter down or scatter everything. 
Cavalry like Stoneman's 's like a hurricane in a city of 
paper houses. They 11 break up infantry every time, 
and '11 silence a battery by hacking the cannoneers to 
pieces. Why, a cavalryman on the dead run, 's these 
fellows were just now, '11 split a man from head to 
waist, with his saber, 's easy 's a butcher 'd split a 
spring lamb !" 

" Don't they use their Spencers ?" I asked. 

" Neither rifles nor revolvers are any good to cavalry 
in a charge. The saber 's the thing for the rush." 

The enemy made no further demonstration, and we 
held our position, unmolested, during the rest of the 
day. At night a picket was set, and our regiment came 
in for its share of duty. 

Fred and I were assigned to the same post ; and 
there, by a big tree, we stood and listened. That about 
sums up the duty of a night picket. You stand by 
some big tree or stump or rock, while all around you is 
a darkness that almost may be felt. And how you do 
listen ! How keenly sensitive are the ears, and how 
vivid the imagination at such times ! You fancy some- 
body is moving toward you ; the breaking of twigs and 
rustling of leaves settle this to your satisfaction ; the 
sound ceases, and the cold chills creep over you as you 
think the cause of your alarm may be standing on the 
other side of your tree, and if you but stretch your 
arm around it you may touch him. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 151 

I realized that the Confederate Army was only a short 
distance away, and, at times, strained my ears until it 
seemed as if the nerves and muscles of my face would 
crack with the tension in the effort to discover some 
evidence of their nearness. But the stillness was un- 
broken, with the exception, perhaps, of the piping of 
frogs and the low, far-off rumbling sound of some 
moving train. 

At daylight we were again on the move to the south- 
west. This time no regiments marched in front with 
us. Two days before we had swept round from east to 
west like a long, blue tidal-wave, regardless of road or 
broken ground ; to-day, a long, blue serpent-line of 
men drew its sinuous folds. To the left of us, the 
gloomy, unbroken wall of forest, hiding the ridge of 
Rocky Face from us and us from the eyes of our 
enemy along its crest ; to the right, a broken country ; 
ahead, long lines of soldiers marching on ; behind us, 
lines of soldiers coming after. 

" Looks as if the whole army was on the move," 
said Jake. " There 11 be fun soon, and we '11 have a 
chance to try these guns of ours." 

" Don't be in a hurry, Jake. Our guns won't rust," 
said Kimball. " We '11 catch it soon enough. I 've had 
all the square meals of that kind I want. I 'd rather 
march than fight any day. It 's better to get tired than 
it is to get killed, and a heap better to suffer with blis- 
tered feet than to lose an arm or a leg." 

" It 's skeery business," replied Jake ; " but we never 
got killed yet, and we 've been under fire a good many 
times." 

" Some of us have been mighty lucky ; but you can't 
tell, you can't tell," said Kimball, as he gave his heavy 
cartridge-box a hitch into a more comfortable position 
and walked away. 



152 THE GUN-BEARER. 

We entered Snake Creek Gap and crowded on, some- 
times in the stony road, sometimes over ' the shingle 
beside the creek or along its sloping banks. 

Overhead the interlacing branches of the trees on 
either side of this narrow defile formed a thatch which 
for long distances shrouded us in gloom. Occasionally 
a break in the dense foliage let in the sunlight, aftd we 
could see the wild and picturesque scenery surround- 
ing us. 

We came through the gap at last and camped in flank 
with McPherson's army before the outworks of Resaca. 
We saw the light of rebel campfires reflected on the 
clouds drifting over Rocky Face far to the north of us, 
whence we had come, and we looked to our muskets — 
at least I did — expecting sharp work on the morrow ; 
but it did not come. The roar of McPherson's bat- 
teries and the ceaseless fire of musketry from his line, 
still snarling like an eager but wary watchdog before 
the intrenchments of Resaca, were now in our ears. 
We were not drawn into it, but were cautiously extend- 
ing our lines and resting on our arms. That night 
again we saw the firelight of our enemy still in its old 
position to the north. But the next day a report spread 
like wildfire along our line that Johnston had left Dal- 
ton and was concentrating on our front. This was great 
news. Our marching had countered them. 

We saw the smoke of a burning house or two along 
the railroad. We heard the shouts of our comrades of 
the Fourth Corps driving the enemy toward us along 
the ridge of Rocky Face and through Buzzard's Roost 
Gap, and we perceived that the fire in our front was 
much increased, betokening a stronger force there. 
Johnston and his whole army were there. 

It was the thirteenth of May. I had been a soldier 
three months, and I had not fired a shot. 




CHAPTER XIV. 



The Twenty-third Corps marched two and a half 
miles, in a northeasterly direction, on the Rome and 
Dalton Road; then left it, and, regardless of roads or 
fences, pursued an easterly course straight across the 
country. 

Shortly after leaving the road, we forded three or 
four tributaries of Blue Spring Creek. There was no 
time to stop and remove shoes and stockings at these 
places ; it was simply walk in, regardless of water or its 
depth, just as a horse or a mule would do. Fortunately, 
the water was not more than half way up to my knees, 
and all I had to do, on reaching the other side, was to 
squeeze my trousers as dry as possible, and depend for 
the rest upon the movement of my feet, which, when I 
walked, worked up and down in my shoes like a pump- 
plunger, throwing out water at every stroke. 

Our line of march seemed to be so planned that 
we passed no houses on this tramp, though we could 

['53l 



154 THE GUN-BEARER. 

not have been far removed from them, as we frequently 
saw fences surrounding lands under cultivation. 

At Line Creek we did not fare so well, as the water 
was quite deep in places, and the steep bank leading to 
the hill on the opposite side made it difficult to continue 
in a straight line ; but we forded the stream, and in 
zigzag order, with the water in our shoes chugging 
and crunching at every step as we ascended the hill 
and pressed on. 

We had heard more or less firing since daybreak ; but, 
after leaving the wagon road, the sound became more 
continuous, and rapidly increased in volume. When 
we gained the crest of the hill, close to Line Creek, the 
noise of battle grew more distinct, and we could with 
ease distinguish the booming of artillery from the rattle 
of musketry. 

It was nearly noon when we descended to the valley 
and came into line on the left of Thomas, facing Camp 
Creek, which separated us from the strongly intrenched 
hills occupied by the enemy north of Resaca. 

To the right and left the rattle of musketry from our 
skirmish lines, which were pressing the enemy toward 
the creek, was continuous. From still farther to the 
right and south, where McPherson was engaged, came 
the deep-toned thunder of artillery ; in our immediate 
front the silence was absolute. We knew the enemy 
was there, however — perhaps felt it, rather than knew it. 

Between us and the enemy there stretched a broad, 
green valley down to the harmless creek, which rip- 
pled peacefully along as if there were no such thing as 
war. The sky was clear as crystal. The sun shone 
brightly, as if to gladden our hearts and induce us to 
abandon our wretched business. But the birds among 
the trees near by flitted nervously from branch to 
branch, discontented, fearful, silent. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 155 

I had hardly taken in the beauties of the scene when 
an order was given for our deployment as a skirmish 
line. It came unexpectedly, and, it seemed to me, was 
given without the careful deliberation it merited, and 
wholly regardless of whether we were ready or not. 

I felt my face become pale and my strength suddenly 
leave me. The least push, or, it seemed to me then, 
breath of air, would have tumbled me headlong to the 
earth. 

I would, at that moment, have given all I had, or 
ever expected to have, for a place of safety. The idea 
of being ordered like that, to stand between two op- 
posing armies. That any human being should have it 
given into his power to say : 

" You go to the front and die !" 

I looked at my comrades for a sign that all was not 
right. There seemed to be no spirit of concern or 
question either in their faces or in their actions. 

Fred, on my left, was walking with his gun at the 
" trail," looking straight ahead. Jake, on my right, 
and Kimball next to him, were doing the same thing ; 
in fact, the whole line was steadily advancing. 

It seemed to me that the silence before us was awful. 
It did not matter that there was firing either to the 
right or left ; my ears were closed to that, and both 
eyes and ears were strained to catch a glimpse or hear 
a sound of the enemy in front. 

Of course, I was in position all this time ; spurred on 
by pride, absence of will-power to do other than what 
I was bid or what you will, I kept pace with the line as 
it advanced. 

At last a little break in the woods revealed the breast- 
works of the enemy. 

"Forward ! Double quick !" shouted a voice in our 
rear. 



156 THE GUN-BEARER. 

I threw one glance behind me to see if the main line 
were advancing. 

They had not moved. Could it be that this order 
was meant for us alone. It seemed to me the faces of 
the men in our rear were cold, cruel and grim, and I 
wondered if it was usual to order a line of men, separ- 
ated so widely as we were, to charge upon an enemy 
of unknown strength. It was unreasonable to expect 
anything like success from such a movement. 

Would the silence before us never be broken ? That 
awful hush was wearing upon me ! I nervously 
raised my gun, looked it over to make sure it was all 
right, then again lowered it to a " trail," clinging tight- 
ly to it all the while. 

But look ! A puff of white smoke and a red blaze 
suddenly sprang out from the trees beyond the creek. 
Scarcely had I seen it, when a loud report reached 
my ears and then from the same spot a dozen or more 
fiery throats belched forth their wrath and passion. 

I heard, for the first time in my life, the shrill whistle 
made by flying shell, and as I ducked my head, now 
this way, now that, the sharp, quick shots of musketry 
followed and bullets went by my ears with a " zip, zip " 
or rattled like hail on the ground around me, or drove 
into the earth at my feet, throwing up pieces of dirt 
into my face. It seemed as if we were rushing into the 
very jaws of death. 

The artillery were getting our range now, and burst- 
ing shell were flinging their iron fragments far and 
wide. 

A sudden tug at the strap holding my canteen 
caused me to look down. My canteen had been struck 
on the side, just tearing its cloth covering. " Whew, that 
was a close one !" I thought, for I did a vast amount of 
thinking in that scrambling dash. 




"fire at will!"— See Page 157. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 157 

" Forward, double quick ! " 

But we were going then, to my mind, at breakneck 
speed. What need for another order ? I was running 
and trembling, when, suddenly, almost in our faces, a 
blaze of fire and the whistling of bullets nearly robbed 
me of what little strength remained. My heart seemed 
to stand still, waiting for my body to be struck. For a 
moment I didn't think I knew anything — not even my 
own name, but I pulled down the visor to my cap and 
bent my head forward as I ran, like one breasting a 
stinging hailstorm. 

" Steady, boys, steady !" shouted our captain. "Drive 
'em into the creek." 

The veterans set their teeth, grasped their guns more 
firmly and sprang forward, I dreamily rushing onward 
with the rest, without a definite thought save that of 
danger and an enemy that must be forced to retreat. 

"Fire at will !" 

Aha ! With the first discharge of my gun fear van- 
ished, and a proud feeling of ability to take care of 
myself intoxicated me after I had fired some half-dozen 
rounds, when I again looked to the right and left. Fred 
and Jake and Kimball and Taylor and all the others 
were there, not a man missing, all intent on the work 
hefore them, loading and firing as they advanced. 

Again and again, not in volleys, but as fast as guns 
could be loaded and fired, the enemy's artillery from 
the woods across the creek blazed and thundered, filling 
the air with screaming, bursting shell. 

But high above it all now rose a prolonged cheer 
from the main line in our rear. Then the quick tread 
of many feet encouraged us, for we knew that the army 
was coming on. Cheer upon cheer, in which I joined 
as lustily as any one, rolled like a wave along the line, 
and as I took place in the front rank and touched 



158 THE GUN-BEARER. 

elbows with the veterans of that advancing line, a 
thrill of enthusiasm shot through me which I shall 
always remember. 

The transition from weakness and fear to excitement 
and strength was brief but positive. I loaded and 
fired and cheered, loaded and fired and yelled like a 
madman, it seems to me, as I think of it now. 

Whether I ever hit anybody I don't know, as the 
smoke settled down upon us and we could only aim 
low and trust to chance for results. 

Several times in my haste I came near not with- 
drawing my ramrod before firing, and shooting that 
useful implement into the enemy's camp. 

On, on, through a deadly cross-fire of shot and shell 
that whistled and screeched and howled above us and 
around us, striking trees, cutting through branches, 
bounding along, plunging, ricocheting, tearing up the 
ground and throwing clouds of loose earth over us, we 
hurried to the finish. 

Men were now falling about me but I only loaded 
and fired the faster. Presently the artillery ceased fir- 
ing, and almost at the same instant from out of the 
woods in front flashed a red line of musketry. 

"Charge !" 

Forward, we sprang, rushing at full speed, stumbling, 
scrambling through briers and leaping over such ob- 
stacles as lay in our path. The enemy turned and fled 
into the creek, we pursuing close after them, firing as 
we ran. Across the creek, waist deep with water, and 
up the steep bank on the other side we followed, lessen- 
ing the interval between the lines at every step. 

At the top of the hill the enemy, gathering courage 
from the presence of fresh troops behind intrenchments, 
stopped long enough to fire another volley at us, then 
retreated to other intrenchments still further to the 



THE GUN-BEARER. 159 

rear and left the outer line of defense in our posses- 
sion. 

And now, as the enemy's artillery from another point 
directed their fire upon us, a new element of confusion 
was added to the pandemonium of sounds about us. A 
battery or a number of gunners from our own side had 
come to our relief and began to blaze away at the 
enemy. 

For awhile it seemed as if shot and shell met in the 
air and fought for right of way, such a bellowing, burst- 
ing, roaring, echoing sound throbbed and beat upon the 
air. It did not last long, as the enemy soon retired to 
other intrenchments still further to the rear. 

We advanced again, occupied the second line of 
works, strengthened the reverse side as much as possi- 
ble, and waited in silence. There were few of us who 
cared to talk much. I had just time enough to eat a 
small piece of bacon and a couple of hard tack when 
some one shouted : 

" Look out, boys ! They 're going to try and take 
this line back again ! They 're coming up the 
hill !" 

This was followed by a rattle of musketry from the 
enemy at the foot of the hill. They are coming in 
huge, dust-covered masses, loading and firing as they 
advance, without stop, determined to drive us out of 
our position or die. 

When they were within a hundred yards of us we 
leveled our guns over the breastworks and let them 
have it. They did not waver, though their lines were 
broken and disordered, but came on faster and nearer. 
Bullets were flying about my head with a nearness that 
was exasperating. 

We were standing two or three deep, with just enough 
space between to allow room for loading. The rear 



1G0 THE O UN-BEARER. 

lines were firing between and over the heads of the 
men in front of them. 

There was something maddening in the flashing and 
explosion of the rear rank guns, their muzzles almost 
on a line with our faces. The sharp report that was 
continuously ringing in our ears ; the sulphurous odor 
of burned powder, and the " zip, zip " of the enemy's 
bullets above us, around us and between us — when they 
did not strike — may fairly be said to have constituted 
my baptism of fire. 

In camp, each movement in the operation of loading 
and firing was anticipated by an order. Now we were 
loading and firing independently of each other without 
word of command ; the man who loaded quickest firing 
oftenest. 

I went through the process of loading and firing 
mechanically, and without giving any special thought 
as to what I was about. 

The noise in my ears was so deafening that I could 
not tell whether my gun had been discharged or not, 
and I did not even feel it kick, although my shoulder 
was sore for days afterward. 

My ammunition was fast disappearing. My cartridge- 
box had been emptied long ago, and I was then using 
cartridges from my haversack ; these, too, were nearly 
gone, yet the enemy were coming on. Men are falling 
in all directions. We saw them a moment advancing 
through the smoke ; they disappear like specters and 
others glide into their places ; yet always the same 
blackened faces, flashing eyes, clenched teeth and grip- 
ing hands. It is hard to see men fall like that, yet the 
sickening work went on. But they could not long en- 
dure our terrible fire, that had already told fearfully on 
their ranks ; and, at last, they doubted, hesitated, then 
turned and broke for the bottom of the hill, leaving 



THE GUN-BEARER. lfil 

their dead and wounded behind them, covering the 
sides of the slope. 

At this moment we were relieved by other troops 
and marched to the rear, over the ground we had just 
passed. Dead and wounded were scattered in all direc- 
tions, and men were continually dropping out of line 
to look at this one or that, and to offer such assistance 
as was possible. While I was looking at the faces of 
the different men we passed, I heard Kimball say : 

" Hello ! There 's Eli Norcross, and he 's been hit, 
too ; hit hard, I reckon. Perhaps we can help him ;" 
saying which, Kimball, Fred and I started toward a 
form lying on the ground, some distance away. 

Reaching the spot where the wounded man lay, Kim- 
ball kneeled beside him and said : 

" Are you hurt, Eli ?" 

" Yes." 

" Where ?" 

"Through the body. I 'm 'most gone. Can't last 
long. Hand me my haversack." 

Kimball reached for the haversack, which lay a short 
distance away, and drew it toward him. 

Open it, Kimball, and take out the things that are in 
there." 

Kimball did as directed, and spread the contents of 
the bag on the ground, where they could be easily seen. 

" Kimball," said Eli, " stand the four photographs so 
I can see them." 

The pictures of his wife and three children were 
placed so he could look at them. After a moment's 
pause, during which the dying man gazed earnestly at 
the pictures, he spoke, f alteringly, and with labored effort : 

"Kimball, I want my wife — to have my watch — and 
the — little money I 've got — in my pocket. I — I — ain't 
got — much else — nothin' fer the — children, God bless 



102 THE GUN-BEARER. 

'em ! Give my writin'-kit ter my oldest girl. To Katie — 
give my sewin'-gear. To my boy — my baby — what can 
I send ter him ?" 

After pondering a moment, he continued, huskily : 

" Kimball, give me a drink from my canteen." 

The canteen was produced, and placed to the parched 
and whitening lips. After drinking, Eli said : 

" Kimball, send the canteen, just as it is, to my boy. 
Write to his mother and tell her that I drank from it 
just before I died. Tell her — to explain to my boy — 
when he gets old enough, that I was killed in defend- 
ing the flag of my country. Tell her I want my son 
to know all about the wrong done by the men who have 
tried to ruin this country, and that, whenever he looks 
at this battered old canteen, to remember that his 
father drank from it just before he died on the battle- 
field. Kimball, you take my blanket ; it 's better than 
yours. My poncho — give — it — to — to — Hold the pict- 
ures nearer, Kimball ; there, that's better. Ah, Kate — 
we did not think, as you stood in the lane holding baby 
in your arms, the day we parted, that I should never see 
you again. By-by, baby ; by-by, darling." 

And a smile hovered around the lips of the husband 
and father, as he closed his eyes and passed peacefully 
away. 

Taking the few things which had been intrusted to 
his care Kimball arose, and together we left the spot, 
hurrying on to our company, where we were loaded 
down with a hundred rounds of ammunition. 

While we were resting — waiting to be called into 
action — the firing continued along the whole line, and 
was kept up far into the night, when it gradually died 
away, and finally ceased altogether. 

At sundown the company was mustered into line and 
the roll called. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 163 

" Alfred Abbot !" cried the orderly, repeating the first 
name on the list. 

No response. 

" Alfred Abbot !" the sergeant called again, this time 
f alteringly, as, lowering his book, he fixed his eyes upon 
the ground ; for Abbot and the orderly were like 
brothers. 

" Alfred Abbot was shot as we were crossing the val- 
ley, and before we reached the creek," replied a trem- 
bling voice to the right. " He was by my side when he 
fell." 

The sergeant coughed, as if to control his voice, raised 
the book, and then called : 

" Ezra Armstrong !" 

" Here !" 

" Thomas Bennett." 

" Here !" 

" Erastus Brown." 

No response. The sergeant repeats the name, raises 
his eyes from the book and looks inquiringly up and 
down the line. 

" Does any one know about Brown ?" he asks. 

" We jumped into the creek together," replied Taylor, 
" but I missed him before we got to the other side." 

" John Butterworth !" 

" Here !" 

" Charles Carroll." 

" Here !" 

And so on down the list, the response " Here " was 
given, without break, until the name of Eli Norcross 
was reached. When this name was called Kimball 
spoke. 

" Eli is dead, sergeant. He went down in the valley 
yonder. Just as the order was given to charge. A 
piece of shell hit him in the side." 



104 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



" Poor Eli !" said Fred, who was standing- at my side. 
" It was he who hesitated so long when we veteranized. 
His family will miss him." 

"Enoch Norton." 

" Here, sergeant, all but the tip of my little finger," 
replied Norton holding up his left hand and showing 
the bandage around that, member. 

Altogether, we lost from our company, in missing 
and killed, about a dozen men, and some half dozen 
more that were disabled by reason of wounds. My 
own messmates were all present, and had passed 
through the fire, unharmed. 

A cup of coffee, the first I had tasted since leaving 
the camp at Mill Creek, a piece of bacon, toasted in the 
fire, and a quantity of hard tack, for I was ravenously 
hungry, constituted my bill of fare for supper, after 
which I enjoyed a quiet smoke and then slept. 

I tried to write to Mary that night, for I had much 
to tell her. I got so far as to tell her that I had passed 
through my first fire test unharmed when I caught my 
hand making unintelligible lines on the paper and my- 
self nodding over it. My eyes would not stay open. I 
tore up the paper and rolled myself in my blanket. 
The rugged bosom of Mother Earth was softer than 
down to me that night and the occasional booming of 
artillery a soothing lullaby. 

Monday morning Sherman entered Resaca and an- 
other town was scored to our credit. 






CHAPTER XV. 

From this time onward our movements to the south 
were through a country more open, less broken up by 
hills and valleys and much easier to travel over. The 
excitement was so continuous that I soon became accus- 
tomed to it, finding time to take interest in affairs 
beyond my own neighborhood, and to watch, as much 
as possible, the movements of our army. 

We never saw a tenth part of our whole force at one 
time ; rarely a battle in which any considerable num- 
ber of men were engaged. But we did see any amount 
of skirmishing and had our share in it — enough to 
satisfy even Jake ; at least, we heard no grumbling 
from him on this subject. 

For the most part, after we left Cassville, we were 
under fire night and day, and the feeling of fright at 
the sound of the bullets changed to one of indifference. 
I listened to their bodeful whistle with respectful atten- 
tion, but not with so much anxiety and dread as at first. 

While we were away off on the left, watching the 
flank of Johnston's army and trying to turn it, we kept 
ourselves well informed as to the movements of the 
rest of the army. 

Our information was always recent and very seldom 
erroneous, though I am sure most of it originated in 

[165] 



166 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the practiced judgment of my veteran comrades and 
their ability to interpret the sounds of distant strife 
rather than in definite news. We seldom had time for 
visiting with other regiments. Word would come gal- 
loping up from headquarters, somewhere away off to 
the right, or be " ticked " out in spasmodic jerks on 
the telegraph key, and before the sound of the hoof- 
beats or the click of the instrument had died away 
drums would be beating and a regiment or two, or per- 
haps our whole corps, would have gathered up its 
belongings and be on the move. 

The boys, with Thomas at the center, had an easy 
time of it comparatively. It was their business to push 
the enemy back and to hammer away until he was 
driven out of his stronghold. It was on the Army of 
the Tennessee at the right and on us at the left that 
the hard work fell, and in this hard work the Army of 
the Ohio had more than its share. Day and night we 
were on the move, marching, countermarching, crossing 
creeks and rivers, sometimes on bridges, oftener in the 
water, throwing up earthworks, fighting, skirmishing, 
continually harassing and threatening the enemy's 
flank. 

A forced march is a horror to the best soldier that 
ever carried a rifle. It means torture of mind and 
body ; a dull aching of bones to the very marrow ; in- 
tense weariness and pain, and complete prostration of 
the physical powers. It means to fall asleep before 
you touch the ground in an attempt to lie down. Ten 
minutes' rest at such times is only an aggravation. It 
is easier to keep moving than to again rise at the com- 
mand, " Fall in, men !" and find yourself stiffer and 
sorer than before — if that were possible ; but one thing 
encourages us through it all — the fact that the enemy 
were always retreating and that our pains and aches 



THE GUN-BEARER. 167 

had not been needless, and when an objective point 
was once reached long rests were the rule rather than 
the exception. But whenever we started, with a long 
distance to cover and a clear road before us, we pressed 
on and on, halting rarely, and then only for five or 
ten minutes, just long enough to snatch a bite of 
something to eat and to find out how tired we really 
were.* 

The country through which we passed was deserted 
by its inhabitants ; in sonie places scarcely a family was 
left, and the males, if there were any, were either too 
young or too old to handle a musket or were prevented 
from so doing by reason of sickness. 

The slaves, also, were mostly too old to be of any 
use ; the others had been run off to the south, where 
they could be of service to the Confederates. 

Over the hills which had been so stubbornly defended, 
passing intrenchments and retrenchments, passing the 
enemy's dead, lying just as they had fallen, down the 
slope, out of the woods, to the plain we marched in a 
southeasterly direction and toward the Connasauga. 

Reaching the river, we followed down its right bank 
to Fites Ferry, where we crossed. As the water was 
more than waist deep at this point, and as there was no 
bridge, the artillery was ferried over on flatboats ; we 
were allowed to strip before crossing. A comical sight 
it must have been to see us with clothes, haversacks, 
ammunition and rifles rolled up in blankets and carried 
above our heads. Shouts of laughter greeted the un- 
lucky fellow who slipped and wet his bundle, and they 
were not a few who fell. Whether the cool water and 
the opportunity for a bath presented a temptation too 
strong to be resisted or whether it was accidental, only 

* " We marched and fought during the day and fortified under cover of 
the night. This was characteristic of the Atlanta campaign." — Diary of 
O. L. Overly, 16th Ey. 



168 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the ludicrous side of the situation was noticed, and a 
spectator might have easily imagined us a lot of jolly 
school-boys out for a frolic, instead of an army of 
veteran soldiers in pursuit of a hostile force. But the 
bath was refreshing and answered better than a 
rest. 

Dressed and once more in line, we moved on in high 
spirits toward Field's Mill. At the Coosawatee River, 
four miles from Field's Mill, we found the road block- 
aded by Hooker's troops, who had preceded us. Here 
we halted, ate our supper, spread our blankets and were 
soon asleep. 

The next day, the 17th, was devoted to rest for us, 
and bridge building for others. That bridge building 
was a realized ideal in mechanics, which, to the con- 
tractor in times of peace, would have seemed an impos- 
sibility. From out of the woods in all directions, along 
the river's bank, came soldiers, bearing timbers cut in 
proper lengths, and all prepared to be placed in posi- 
tion. While the work of 'preparation was going on in 
the woods, the process of construction seemed like a 
work of magic ; the trestle work rapidly reared its sub- 
stantial height to the required level, and increased in 
length, yards at a time. At ten o'clock that night, 
when the bridge was finished, we marched over it and 
headed for Big Springs, which we reached at three 
o'clock next morning. 

Here we found temporary barricades of rails and 
logs, and were welcomed with volleys of musketry from 
the enemy's skirmish line. 

We speedily settled it in our minds that there would 
be a battle at daylight, but when the day broke the 
enemy had abandoned their position. 

Early in the morning of the 18th we marched by way 
of Cassville to Cartersville, skirmishing nearly all the 



THE GUN-BEARER. 169 

way with the enemy's rear guard, who were driven 
back without serious loss. 

At Cartersville there was some show of force, but the 
enemy gracefully retired on the night of the 19th, 
without offering serious opposition to our progress. 
From this point a detachment of the Twenty-third 
Corps, followed up the left bank of the Etowah to the 
Etowah Iron Works and destroyed them on the 20th. 

From Cartersville we crossed the Etowah River, at 
Gillem's Bridge, and marched over the Alatoona road 
toward Burnt Hickory. Stoneman's cavalry were in the 
advance, skirmishing as they went. We were gener- 
ally in sight of the enemy's intrenched lines, and 
subjected at all times to more or less firing from skir- 
mishers, yet we lost but few men from the whole corps. 

At Burnt Hickory we rested for three days, and most 
thoroughly enjoyed it, although at no time was the air 
free from the sounds of battle or skirmish. 

Here I was initiated into the mystery of baking 
beans. Boiled beans or bean soup was a dish familiar 
enough in camp, but we never had them served to lis 
in any other way. The feast at this place was pro- 
vided by Kimball, who had captured a couple of quarts 
of white beans at Cartersville and shared his treasure 
with Fred, Jake and myself, saying as he gave them 
to us : 

" Let 's hang on to these until we find a chance to 
bake them, somewhere." 

At Burnt Hickory, Kimball obtained from a deserted 
cabin, an iron pot, which he jubilantly held aloft as he 
came toward us after supper, remarking : 

" I Ve got the thing we need, boys. We '11 have our 
baked beans now, for sure ; and they '11 be all the 
better by putting what we have together." 

"That *s business," said Jake, and he at once began 



170 THE GUN-BEARER. 

to dig a hole with his bayonet using his hands to re- 
move the loosened earth. 

After the hole was made large enough to accom- 
modate the pot, a fire was built over it and allowed to 
burn out. The pot with its precious contents of beans, 
water and pork and a little salt for seasoning was then 
carefully rested on the earth at the bottom of the hole, 
and the glowing coals filled in around it. A flat stone 
then covered the pot and a fire was built on top of the 
stone, spreading out so as to heat the earth about it. 

"We are not to do guard duty to-night," said Kim- 
ball ; " so we can take ' turn about ' watching the beans." 

" Watching them ?" said I. 

" Yes," said Jake. " There 're other people who like 
beans, and they know when they 're cooked long enough, 
as well as we do. Besides, you 've got to keep a little 
fire agoin', or they won't be cooked enough." 

That settled it with me. I could have watched all 
night, if it had been necessary, for the sake of the beans; 
but four of us made easy work of it, and when break- 
fast time came, in the morning, the coals were brushed 
away, the flat stone removed, and there was a sight 
which would have delighted the eyes and the heart of 
the most fastidious epicure in New England. 

A pot of beans, cooked to perfection ; a piece of pork 
on the top, with the rind brown and crisp. The water 
had boiled away, leaving just enough to make them 
juicy and appetizing. And then the odor from the 
smoking mass as we ladled them out on our plates ! — 
it makes me hungry, even now, to think of it. We had 
abundance for ourselves, for Taylor and for the orderly, 
who happened along as we were taking them out of the 
pot. 

Late in the afternoon of the 25th, we heard sharp 
firing to the south, where there seemed to be a deter- 



THE GUN-BEARER. 171 

mined effort on the part of one army to advance, and 
equally as obstinate a disposition displayed by the 
other army to prevent the advancement. Which was 
the attacking party we were unable to learn. We could 
tell only by the firing, which crept nearer and nearer 
until the lines in front were engaged, that the move- 
ment was general. 

" There 's something up, sure 's you live," said Jake. 
" Just hear the artillery !" 

" That 's all right," said Kimball, pointing westward. 
" But just look at that for a sunset ! And look at those 
clouds, will you !" 

We turned and saw the sun, looking like a great drop 
of blood, just ready to sink behind the western hills, 
while to the south we saw heavy rolls and masses of 
angry, inky clouds rising rapidly. 

" We 'd better get ready for a thunder-storm," said 
Fred. " It 's coming up fast, and a storm of that kind, 
down here, means a drenching unless you 're housed." 

" And mighty well housed, too," added Kimball. 

While we were watching the sunset and the storm, as 
it came sweeping across the sky, orders were received 
to prepare for immediate departure. An hour later, 
with arms at a " secure " and covered with our ponchos, 
we fell into line and marched along the west side of 
Pumpkin Vine Creek toward Owen's Mills. 

Directly above us, and to the north, was a starry 
space in the sky ; to the south rose the many-headed 
crest of the stars, around the edge of which the light- 
ning played continually, while to the east the night shut 
in, black and dense. 

Onward, mile after mile, we marched, with the boom 
of artillery and the rattle of musketry behind us and 
to the right of us ; on, through the darkness and deso- 
lation, the way becoming more difficult at every step. 



172 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Now and then we caught a glimpse of flashing guns 
and of exploding shell ; and as we were not far from 
our intrenched lines an occasional flight of bullets 
whistled around and above us. 

The roar of battle was unceasing, but now was added 
to it the distant growling of thunder, echoing solemnly 
down and through the vast dome of night. 

" It 's going to be an awful night for a march," said 
Jake. " Look at the rain and wind in those clouds !" 

Great masses of brass-colored clouds, led by vapory 
monsters, were hurrying across the heavens toward us, 
seemingly borne along without wind for the air was 
hot and stifling. The flashing lightning threw a weird 
distorted light upon the blackness, revealing for an 
instant the dark line of our column in front and rear, 
and the long series of rifle pits to our right, then dis- 
appearing leaving the darkness more intense than be- 
fore. On rolled the brass-colored clouds, and on, above 
them, came the muttering storm. 

" Hark, Dan !" said Fred. " Did you hear that ?" 

"You mean the cheering !" 

"Yes. Look, Dan, look quick !" said Fred, hurriedly, 
as a continuous chain of lightning shot out from the 
clouds and illumined the scene for miles around. I 
looked and saw a body of men charging across a field 
on our right ; just in front of them, separated by only 
a short interval of space, was another body of men 
running at full speed. 

Immediately following this protracted flash of light- 
ning came a peal of thunder so terrific that the roar of 
artillery could not be heard. Flash followed flash, 
crash succeeded crash, now from the heavens, then, 
feebly, from the guns of the contending forces. 

And now, with the wind which came tearing along, 
filling the air with leaves and limbs of trees, the storm 



THE GUN-BEARER. 173 

broke upon us. Behind the wind swung in the curtain 
of the rain, sparkling- in the flashing light like a heavy 
shower of polished silver beads, and wrapping us so 
closely in its density that we were unable to see any- 
thing. 

For a time the majesty of the storm was upon us, but 
we stumbled and plodded along through pools of mud 
and water, fearing more from the lightning which 
flashed and twisted and writhed and hissed through 
the air, driving into the ground right and left, than 
from the fragments of bursting shell which, notwith- 
standing the storm, the enemy still continued to throw 
toward us. 

After the fury of the storm abated, though the rain 
continued until near midnight, we left the road and 
took to the fields, throwing down fences as we ad- 
vanced. 

Our whole course was determined by the irregular 
line of the enemy's intrenchments, along the front of 
which we marched, trying to reach the end or flank and 
turn it. 

At midnight we came upon the mule teams belong- 
ing to Hooker's army and the Army of the Cumberland. 
Passing these obstacles was slow work and vexatious 
and delayed our progress for an hour or more. 

At Brown's Mill we crossed the little Pumpkin Vine, 
and an hour later came in on the right of Howard's 
Fourth Corps, on the hills facing the Dallas and Ala- 
toona road, with the Sixteenth Kentucky in the post of 
honor. 

Friday's sun rose bright and hot, and with it again 
the spiteful sounds of battle up and down the line ; not 
in volleys, as when charging troops are repulsed, but' 
the isolated, irregular fire of skirmishers and sharp- 
shooters and the boom of occasional cannons. But we 



174 THE GUN-BEARER. 

held our position quietly, with nothing to especially 
interest us until in the afternoon troops * were massed 
in our rear. From this they marched out along our 
division line, crossed the Alatoona road and at length 
stirred up a hornet's nest of rebels. They came back 
again and passed out of sight to the northward behind 
our lines. 

The noise they stirred up soon died away, but this 
marching meant something. Soon we got news of it 
in the tumult that arose far away to our left, where the 
two armies quit worrying each other with skirmish 
firing and sprang at each other's throats. 

We advanced our line a little without opposition, and 
did not see much of the sharp fighting that took place 
beyond. But it was practically useless. We got no 
real advantage and our loss was severe, so they said. 
Our boys were attacking an intrenched line, and the 
enemy hurt them sadly. 

The next day and the next the enemy tried our plan 
on the right of our line, and they were made to suffer 
as they had made us. And every day the battle be- 
came more general, until on the last day of May we 
were included in the tempest. 

Early in the day a sharper sputtering of rifles in our 
front warned us of the coming storm, and then our 
skirmishers came hurrying in ; after them, the gray 
backs. 

" Steady, men, steady !" said Captain Hartees, in a low, 
quieting voice. 

He was on one knee at the foot of a tree ; his face was 
set ; a naked sword was in his hand, and his black eyes, 
just raised above the level of our head log, were flash- 
ing up and down the slope in our front. 

* Geoeral Woods's Division. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 175 

" Steady !" he kept muttering between his teeth. 
" Steady ! Wait till you see the whites of their eyes ; 
then give them h ! Steady !" 

I felt that our time was coming. 

" Aim !" There was a grunt, that expressed both dis- 
content and satisfaction, from Jake, at my elbow, as we 
leveled our muskets at the line of men. 

It is strange what little things fix one's attention in 
such instants of suspended breath. I saw our captain 
crouching behind the tree stump, like a panther bal- 
ancing himself for a spring. I saw Fred shrug his 
shoulder, as though a strap was chafing him. I heard 
Jake grunt, and saw one clean-cut, yellow face in the 
advancing crowd, and — " Fire !" The yellow face was 
hidden in the smoke. At it we went, hammer and 
tongs. 

They tried to break the line of an Illinois regiment 
at our right, but they did not succeed. We drove them 
back at last, and they left their dead and wounded in 
our hands. As they hurried away, one man stopped, 
and, turning to a fallen comrade, lifted him and was 
bearing him away. I sighted him, but Kimball stopped 
my finger on the trigger. "A man like that deserves 
better 'n to be shot in the back," he said ; and I woke 
up feeling quite ashamed of myself ; for, to tell the 
truth, I was still so green in this business that I didn't 
know rightly what I was doing, and would have kept 
on firing at any moving thing in range or out of it, for 
that matter, until brought up with a short turn. And 
one rebel that I know of was spared, for, though I did 
not realize what I was doing, my muscles were iron, my 
point-blank aim was sure and my musket carried true. 
I am glad he got away, for he was a " white " man, as 
my boy's slang phrase now puts it. 

From this place we pushed on toward Burnt Church, 



176 THE GUN-BEARER. 

oftentimes in line of battle, slowly and surely forcing 
the enemy back, for they contested stubbornly every 
foot of ground we tried to cover. 

Well do I remember our charge through Alatoma 
Creek in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, the 
roar of heaven's artillery mingling with the boom of 
guns in our face and the rain falling in torrents. But 
we crossed the creek and drove the enemy up a densely 
wooded slope, where the timber was so thick you 
couldn't see the skirmish line back upon their reserve, 
who opened on us a galling fire and sent us back to the 
shelter of the timber along the creek. Here we forti- 
fied, for we could go no farther, as the rain had swollen 
the creek to an unfordable torrent. 

" We 're in for it now," grumbled Jake, casting an 
anxious glance back toward the angry river. "Our 
support 's safe over yonder, and can't back us if they 
want to." 

" Looks as though we were at the mercy of the rebs," 
Fred murmured. 

" Suppose they charge us ? Where 'd we be ?" asked 
Jake, sententiously. 

" I guess we 'd hold 'em an argument, but they 
won't," drawled Kimball. " We '11 get a free bath, 
that 's all. The Johnnies can't do us much harm from 
behind their works, and they won't leave them to- 
night." 

Kimball's idea of the situation proved to be correct, 
as the enemy contented themselves with playing upon 
us with their artillery and musketry, by which we 
suffered little. 

As we lay there that night, sleepless, in our intrench- 
ments, we could hear the minie balls or the heavier 
iron shot, as they went sputtering through the leaves 
above us ; but more to be feared than minie ball or 



THE GUN-BEARER. 177 

shrapnel, were the shrill-whistling- shells, which came 
hurtling through the air or pounding against the tree 
trunks, that turned them from their course. Sometimes 
they burst above our heads, showering their fragments 
upon us. More frequently, however, they passed over 
and wasted their fury among the trees in our rear. 

June 3d the enemy withdrew from our immediate 
front, falling to intrenchments parallel with those above 
Picket's Mill, facing north, while we spread out all the 
time, I suppose, for Johnston, at last, found his flank 
turned ; and on the night of June 4th, pulled up his 
tent pegs and fell back to a point between Lost and 
Brush Mountains, some distance north of Kenesaw. 

As soon as it was discovered that Johnston had aban- 
doned his position, Sherman lost no time in securing 
the railroad at Acworth. Our whole front was changed. 
Up to this time our corps had been on the left of the 
line ; but now, while we stood fast to our position, the 
other corps were marched by us, until Thomas, with 
the Army of the Cumberland following one of his own 
corps, the 20th, that had been for a short time to our 
left, and McPherson, with the Army of the Tennessee 
following both, we were left in McPherson's old posi- 
tion, on the extreme right. 

It was a jolly time, full of good wit and good jokes 
flying between us and our friends, as company after 
company went marching past our position toward the 
east. We did not see the whole army by any means, as 
all did not travel by the same road ; but what we did 
see gave me a better idea of the vast number of men 
it had taken to bring us thus far. We were driving the 
enemy back, and that made every face pleasant. 

While we rested there Fred and I wrote home. 




CHAPTER XVI. 

Much has been written concerning the Atlanta cam- 
paign, and from a broader, more comprehensive point 
of view than mine. Our company — our regiment, even — 
was but a drop in the bucket, compared with the sum- 
total of Sherman's great army. Though rumors flew 
thick and fast along our line, so that we at the extreme 
left knew what was going on perhaps twenty or thirty 
miles to the right of us, yet, from the fact that so many 
thousands of men were engaged and so little depended, 
apparently, on the acts of a single regiment, those ele- 
ments were wanting which were necessary to make it 
seem a personal struggle. 

To tell the story of our experiences, from New Hope 
Church to the fall of Atlanta, would be but to repeat, 
with slightly different scenic settings, the tale of the 
skirmishes, flank movements and constant pushing for- 
ward by the left, which I have already described. Of 
these the reader would soon weary, and that which is 
to come would seem to be only the ringing of another 
change in the same line of experience. 
[178] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 179 

Of the events to be described, little, if anything, has 
ever been written. They occurred at a time when 
every man was of the utmost importance ; when our 
numbers were greatly reduced, and when the conditions 
were the reverse of those we had just passed over, as 
we were retreating before a vastly outnumbering foe. 
Therefore, as the object of this story is more to give the 
personal experiences of a soldier than to compile a 
regimental history, I hurry over the weeks and months 
preceding the fall of Atlanta, to take up the details of 
our struggles with Hood in Central Tennessee. 

The purpose of describing our experience thus far 
will have been accomplished if the reader is enabled 
thereby to see in what a school for soldiers we were. 
On the move from morning till night, nay, even liable 
to be roused from our sky-covered beds at midnight 
to march through trackless woods, over rocky ridges, 
through creeks and streams and mud and dust and 
swamp, in rain or wind or scorching heat, often with- 
out fire, and always under the enemy's guns. 

Such was our service for months, with now and then 
a sharp engagement, in which our number was greatly 
reduced by killed and wounded. 

We were well fed and hearty ; sickness seemed to 
have vanished from us in that clear mountain air, 
above all, we were full of courage. We felt that the 
great mind of our general was directing all our move- 
ments and we saw that he had made no mistakes. 

I must not forget the grim smile of satisfaction 
which spread over the composite face of the army when 
we learned that Hood had succeeded Johnston, who 
had so well managed his command as to win our re- 
spect. Johnston had been giving us the hardest kind 
of work, and it was with absolute satisfaction, there- 
fore, that we heard of the change. Certainly Hood 



180 THE GUN-BEARER. 

could be no worse for us. Then, too, we heard that 
Johnston's careful but safe policy was not the one to be 
pursued by his successor ; that " now there would be 
something done." All of which was very amusing, to 
say the least, and provoked a smile of gratification. It 
was right into our hand, and just what we wanted. 

But somehow those fights never came off, and there 
was no radical change of policy. We continued to push 
and the enemy continued to retreat, just as before. 

Wherever we planted our feet that ground was ours. 
It would have taken legions to dislodge us. 

We speedily learned the use of the ax and shovel. 
As soon as we found the enemy holding a strong posi- 
tion in front of us we set to work throwing up intrench- 
ments. That this work was almost always performed 
under fire did not matter. The ax was swung just as 
steadily, and pick and shovel were just as unceasingly 
handled until the work was complete. 

Our breastworks usually consisted of a continuous 
trench, about two or three feet deep. The earth was 
thrown forward and sloped so as to give the greatest 
height next the trench. Logs were frequently placed 
along the edge of the trench as we began to dig ; these 
logs formed a sill. Cross timbers were then laid on 
these sills and another line of logs parallel with and 
above the first line were laid on the binders. The ex- 
cavated earth was then thrown forward of and banked 
against the logs, and the work continued until the top 
log was about breast high. 

In front of this intrenchment small trees were laid 
together, with the branches toward the enemy. The 
small limbs were trimmed away and the larger limbs 
sharpened, so that thousands of wooden points were 
presented — an obstacle through which the enemy must 
pass in order to reach us. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 181 

Behind a fortification like this one feels compara- 
tively safe ; before it, however, the case is different, as 
any soldier of experience can testify. Many a time 
have I seen some unlucky graycoated soldier caught by 
the sharp-pointed abatis and shot before he could ex- 
tricate himself. 

In a short time after the enemy disappeared from 
before our breastworks, perhaps within an hour, we left 
our position and advanced to a new one, always with 
the same round of work and excitement. 

This constant spreading out and building intrench- 
ments, together with the fact that we were never 
attacked with our own numbers, never had a chance at 
the enemy except when we found them in superior 
force or behind strong intrenchments, so worked upon 
us that we were all " spoiling for a fight." 

If we could only get a chance at the enemy in the 
open ground. But the country around New Hope 
Church, Kenesaw Mountain and Alatoona was so 
broken into hills and irregular ridges and ravines 
and valleys that it was impossible to get the vantage 
ground we longed for. 

However strong the intrenchments of the enemy 
might be, we could find high places enough in their 
immediate vicinity from which to make an attack, 
and sometimes to overlook and command their posi- 
tions, but that was all. Then, too, the thick cover of 
the forests so completely veiled our movements that 
we were frequently enabled to get into the rear of the 
enemy and make the attack from that side. But Hood, 
whenever he found there was a possibility of his being 
cut off from Atlanta, rapidly abandoned his positions 
and fell back, and the actual contact, the pitched battle, 
never came. 

This round of duty became more or less monotonous 



182 THE GUN-BEARER. 

as the days grew into weeks, and the weeks into months. 
Of course, our talk of narrow escapes, on picket or in 
the skirmish, was often relieved by some extraordinary 
event, which gave variety to our after battle talk ; but 
for the most part, as we were having things very much 
our own way, we gave but little thought to passing 
events. 

While we were at the battle around Pine Mountain 
an incident occurred to which many of us owed our lives. 

Early in the morning of the 13th of June we were 
advanced as skirmishers up the side of the mountain, 
and in front of the line of battle formed by our army. 
The skirmish line was well extended, the men being 
separated from each other by a distance of perhaps 
three paces. 

Our movements were in plain sight of the enemy, and 
a continual popping was heard from their sharpshoot- 
ers' pits, while over our heads whirred and screamed 
the shell thrown at the line in our rear. 

Up the hill we went, from tree to tree, from stump to 
stump, and from rock to rock, one eye on the line of 
rifle-pits, in front and above us ; the other eye on our 
own line, the next stopping place, or on the ground 
over which we were travelling. 

There was a quality of excitement in this running and 
jumping, and darting from cover to cover — daring, chal- 
lenging the markmanship of sharpshooters — that pro- 
voked a spirit of recklessness which increased with every 
successful advance we made. I appreciated the pro- 
tection of a big tree trunk, or rock, and cannot describe 
the combined feelings of confidence and doubt which 
possessed me as I stood for an instant in a place of 
comparative safety selecting my next goal, and then 
took the plunge from security into danger, not know- 
ing but I should fall by the way. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 183 

My interest in this method of advance so absorbed 
me, that I took little note of anything else, until Fred 
shouted : 

" Keep your eye on the line, Dan ! Don't get too far 
ahead of it !" 

It was hard for the individual to regulate his motions 
by the movement of the line, as the chances for success 
seemed to be lessened by being thus handicapped. 
Sometimes the firing in my immediate front was so 
heavy that I waited an instant before starting. 

To be sure, we bad now been under fire for a month, 
but somehow there had never before appeared to be so 
much danger. Heretofore, we had been screened by 
dense woods and a heavy undergrowth, and so, with 
one exception, had never been brought so clearly face 
to face with what we had to encounter. In previous 
engagements we had touched elbows, and had felt the 
thrill and encouragement of companionship. Now we 
were as individuals, a mark for sharpshooters, toward 
whose pits we were pressing on and on. 

A small house stood almost in our path as we ad- 
vanced up the slope. There was little or no protection 
between that point and the first line of the enemy's 
intrenchments. A good number of our men were 
shaping their course to get behind that ; but Captain 
Hartees, noting the movement, shouted : 

" Keep your distances, men ; and whatever you do 
keep away from that house !" 

Pressing on, we turned farther to the left, avoiding 
the house. Company A, however, determined to take 
advantage of the shelter. 

" Keep away from that house," I heard Hartees shout 
to the captain of Company A, but no attention was 
paid to the warning. 

Up, up we went, until we were close upon the enemy's 



184 THE GUN-BEARER. 

works. Here every man, behind the best shelter he 
could find, halted for breath. I turned for a look at 
the main line and when I saw, perhaps a hundred 
yards below us, those solid ranks of men who were 
used to this sort of thing, who had made war and battle 
a business for the last three years, when I saw those 
men moving hurriedly yet steadily forward, a feeling 
of security came over me that whistling bullets and 
shrieking shell could not dissipate. 

I looked over our skirmish line to the right and left ; 
every man was at his post, eager, expectant, waiting for 
the word to go. I saw besides that we were in direct 
line with the house and that Company A had huddled 
in behind it. 

We were waiting for breath and the word to charge 
upon this outer work in front. The enemy were in 
good position and would make it warm for us. There 
was no doubt of that. We might succeed in getting 
force enough into their works to drive them out, but if 
we didn't — what ? It would be a hand-to-hand fight — 
and if it should come to that — 

" Forward !" yelled the captain, and as we sprang 
out with the order to advance, the guns of the enemy 
were opened furiously upon us. 

"Quick, my men !" shouted Hartees, who was in ad- 
vance of us. " Now 's your chance !" 

With a sort of scared hurrah which was caught up 
and echoed by the line behind us, we broke for the 
works, passed the rifle pits, with the sharpshooters still 
in them, and into the line of intrenchments, where we 
took a few prisoners. Why the force opposing us was 
not larger was quickly explained by one of the cap- 
tured men, who said to Hartees : 

" Captain, nobody here. They 've gone 'nd are tryin' 
ter lead yer on. Yer 'd better not try 'nd go any furder 



THE GUN-BEARER. 185 

ter-day. I 'm a prisoner now, 'nd it don't make no dif- 
ference ter me what I says, but we Ve got a right smart 
work back o' this ; been at it fer a month. 'F yer try 
it on ther men '11 git cut up purty bad 'nd the rest '11 
git gobbled." 

Captain Hartees sent the man to the general, and 
while awaiting developments we lay down under cover 
on the reverse side of the works we had captured, safe 
from the action of the artillery beyond. 

Looking backward over the ground we had just 
passed we saw in the prostrate forms, lying just as they 
had fallen, the wretched work made by the enemy's 
guns. We also saw why it was that we were ordered 
to keep away from the house. The fire of the artillery, 
at the moment of our advance, had been concentrated 
on this house and had riddled it, the enemy knowing 
that men would naturally seek shelter behind it. 

The result was disastrous to Company A, and many 
were killed and wounded with shot and shell and flying 
splinters, while we escaped almost without losing a 
man. 

The works we captured were of great strength, built 
of logs and stone and covered with loose earth. 





CHAPTER XVIL 

From the time we were within twenty miles of At- 
lanta we were kept constantly informed of the cruelties 
practiced on our men who were prisoners at Anderson- 
ville — a place about one hundred miles from our camp. 

Every day or two one or more escaped prisoners 
would be picked up by some portion of Sherman's 
army, and the story of their sufferings passed from 
camp to camp. There was one story that came home 
to us. 

One day we had settled into position at the siege of 
Atlanta. Kimball, who had been out with a squad from 
Company I, brought back with him a poor fellow who 
had escaped from Andersonville. 

" I found him in the brush, asleep," said Kimball, 
" and I thought he was dead at first." 

To describe the half-crazed starving stranger, and do 
justice to the appearance he presented, would be to fill 
the page with sickening details ; suffice it to say, that 
soap and water were vigorously applied ; his tangled, 
matted hair and beard were trimmed ; his clothes were 
all removed, thrown into the fire, and he was dressed in 
another outfit, worn and old to be sure, but clean, and 
contributed by the boys. 
[186] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 187 

After this he devoured all we dared give him, and 
slept by the fire during- the rest of the day. At sun- 
down, he awoke apparently much refreshed, and we 
placed before him a piece of broiled beef, a cup of 
coffee and a half dozen hard tack. And, while sitting 
with his back against a tree, still eating, he told the 
story of his imprisonment and his suffering ; and a 
feverish glow arose to his pallid cheeks, and his eye 
glittered with a wild, demented light, as he talked. 

" Boys, " he said, as we gathered around him to eat 
our own supper, " you want to know how they treated 
us down there ?" lifting his bony finger in the direction 
of Anderson ville. " Look at me. I 'm the kind of work 
they turn out. A few months ago, and I was the equal 
of the best of you. And now — " 

His eyes filled with tears, and his voice grew husky, 
as he continued, tremblingly : 

" Boys, it unmans me to think of sitting here, eating 
and drinking, while thousands of our poor fellows over 
there have nothing fit to eat ; not a drop of pure water 
to drink ; not even a bone to gnaw ; nothing but a little 
measure of thin ham broth every day ; hundreds dying 
of starvation, and hundreds going mad every day." 

He carefully set down the dipper of weak coffee from 
which he had been drinking. His head sank on his 
breast, and he was silent for a moment, while great 
drops of sweat rolled down his face. But we waited 
patiently, in full sympathy with his emotion, and in 
time the story was resumed. 

" What is it like ? It is a pen ; a slaughter-house 
yard ; an open field surrounded by a high log fence, 
perhaps a quarter of a mile long each way. Into this 
place last June twenty-six thousand men were crowded. 
'T is true ; the fiends themselves said so. Hot ? Not a 
breath of wind sifted through the pine forest outside 



188 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the tall stockade. All night as well as throughout the 
day the heat was intense — something we never have 
north. The brook which flowed through the pen was 
filthy with the offal from the rebel camp and cook- 
houses before it reached us ; but we had to drink it ; 
't was all there was." 

" What did they feed you on ?" asked Kimball. 

" Feed ? A bit of moldy bacon and musty meal. 
That 's what they gave us. 'Twas just enough to keep 
us alive to suffer — no more. Our strength soon failed, 
and our hope, too. Our clothes, what we had, were in 
tatters or had been torn up for bandages, and we were 
covered with vermin from head to foot. Still the rebs 
were afraid of us, weak and helpless as we were, for 
they shot us down like dogs if we dared cross the dead- 
line near the stockade. 

" And then the new comers. Every morning brought 
them, sometimes by the hundreds, and yet the pen 
never grew any fatter. There were as many dead 
carted away next day. Stand in any part of that place 
to look about you, the same scenes met your eye ; 
groups of men sitting or standing and looking toward 
something in the center ; men walking or crawling 
between these groups ; everybody dirty, ragged and 
starving. No sound of voices, except in oaths or yells 
of the mad or in the groans of the dying. Conversa- 
tion, such as there was, was carried on in low tones or 
in a whisper. It would break your heart to look in 
there. Men, as well as I, watched by the sick ; while 
those who were only able to move watched by the 
dying. 

" Hard sights those. They would turn your hair 
white as mine is, to see all that misery and cruelty." 

" What about the wounded ?" I asked, after the 
stranger had rested for a time, 



THE GUN-BEARER. 189 

"The wounded were treated like the rest. They 
could get no attendance. The surgeons never came to 
our relief. Hundreds of men were lying about that 
lot, only a quarter-mile square, dying of gangrene and 
mortification, without relief, except what we well ones 
could give them. We, who had nothing ourselves, not 
even shirts with which to make bandages, and no water 
anywhere, except what we drank, and that was not fit 
to wash a wound with. 

" I remember one poor fellow — 't was just after I was 
thrown into the pen that I met him. Such sights were 
new to me then, and I could not look at them calmly. 
He was a smart young fellow, good looking, or had 
been, and was well educated. Anybody could have 
seen that. He had a nice home in Kentucky, and he 
used to tell us about it, that is before he lost his head. 
He went to the war at the first boom of cannon, like 
the rest of us, and they caught him early in the game. 

" At that time the rebs didn't have so many prisoners, 
and what they did have fared pretty well. Then this 
young fellow was strong and healthy ; but when more 
men came and were crowded into the same inclosure, 
things got rapidly worse, till he thought he couldn't 
stand it any longer ; then he made up his mind to 
escape, and he did. 

" He only got as far as northern Tennessee, when he 
was captured by a band of guerrillas. They wouldn't 
have got him, but they first wounded him in the knee, 
and he couldn't get away. He was sent back to the 
pen and thrown in with others, and there I found him, 
lying on the ground, without shelter, without food, 
without medicine and fast going into the fever. 

M For days we watched beside him, two or three 
others and myself, bringing him dirty water, moldy 
bacon and musty meal — queer food, for a dying man—' 



190 THE GUN-BEAREU. 

and standing up that he might have the benefit of our 
spare shadows when the sun was hottest. 

" I tell you boys, 't was hard. I raved and swore and 
begged the guard to send somebody, to do something ; 
but they wouldn't listen. 'T was no use ; but I was 
new to the place and didn't know men could be so in- 
human. 

" The night following the second day after I found 
him — I think it was the second day — it was sweltering 
hot and the air was terrible. It seemed to settle down 
upon us like an invisible blanket, about to smother us 
out of misery. Is it any wonder that men went mad ? 
To lie there on such nights and see the moon rise 
bright and full over the tops of the dark, motionless 
pines ! Many a poor fellow stood as I did, watching 
the great shining ball roll higher and higher, and 
groaned in his misery. It seemed as if I could feel the 
sweet, cool breezes of the night, away off among the 
hills where that moon was shining ; see the soft mist 
steal up from the brooks and rivers, and — let me see — 
where was I ? It was the second night, and after the 
sun had been down about two hours I went for some 
water. 

" When I came back there were half a dozen men 
squatting around my young friend. They motioned 
me to stop as I came up. I looked at the face of the 
dying man. The moonlight was shining in his eyes 
and they glistened like diamonds. He had caught sight 
of me and called me in a loud whisper, seeming to take 
me for his brother : 

" ' Look, Fred, look ! See ! See !' " 

Fred left my side at the fire and drew closer, so that 
not a syllable of the stranger's weak voice should 
escape him. The stranger continued : 

" What he saw we did not know. Most likely 't was 



THE GUN-BEARER. 191 

home, poor boy ; but death came and took him. The 
next day he was carted off among the usual morning 
load of those that went out feet foremost." 

The stranger ceased, and a silence which we could 
almost feel fell upon us. I looked around me. The 
stranger was leaning forward, his face covered with his 
hands, his elbows resting on his sharp, pointed knees. 
He was exhausted with his story. 

Our fire had mostly burned out, but it still gave 
light enough for me to see, behind the circle of our own 
mess, seated on the ground or standing, bending for- 
ward in strained attitudes, a deep circle of men from 
other messes, who had, unperceived, come up to listen. 

Fred, who was half kneeling beside the stranger, 
watched him earnestly, as if waiting for him to speak 
again. At last he said, in a husky whisper : 

" What was his name ?" 

"Charles Nichols," replied the stranger. "He told 
me he had a brother in a Ken — " 

But Fred waited to hear no more. He arose and 
hurried away into the darkness of the woods, whither I 
followed him. 

Fred was a surer shot with his rifle after that. 










CHAPTER XVIII. 

When Atlanta fell into our hands, in August, there 
was a work of reorganization to be done. This great 
manufacturing center of the South must become a 
military post and nothing more. As a means to this 
end, all the civil inhabitants were forced to leave ; they 
could go South or North as best suited them, but go 
they must. 

The majority, clinging to the Confederate cause, went 
South, taking with them, in long wagon trains, all their 
belongings. In a short time there was not a family 
left in Atlanta. 

The streets were filled with marching troops and 
rumbling wagon trains. The largest buildings groaned 
under the weight of provisions stored there. The post- 
office was opened and run by soldier clerks. Bakeries, 
blacksmith, shops, machine and carpenter shops, oper- 
ated by soldier mechanics, were running night and day, 
and the city at once became a workshop, in which the 
wants of Sherman's army were promptly and satisfac- 
torily supplied. 

Meanwhile we were resting on our arms at Decatur, 
in Northern Alabama, and in the midst of plenty. 

In the second half of September rumors of Confeder- 
ate activity spread through our camp. We learned 
[192] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 193 

that Hood had met and conferred with Jefferson Davis 
at Palmetto, and that Forrest, the Confederate cavalry- 
leader, was disturbing our friends in east Tennessee 

Soon it became apparent that an attempt would be 
made to break up the railroad, which was our line of 
communication with the north. The whole army was 
immediately in motion, and leaving the Twentieth 
Corps as a guard to Atlanta, we started on the back 
track to Marietta. 

When in the neighborhood of Kenesaw, we heard 
sounds of heavy firing away to the north in the direc- 
tion of Alatoona, a railroad point of the utmost im- 
portance to keep in our possession. If the enemy 
captured this place our line of communication would 
not only be broken but a million rations, which were 
stored there, would also be lost. 

At Kenesaw, our corps branched off, marching along 
the Burnt Hickory turnpike to the west, burning bushes 
and hayricks as we went, to show Sherman, who was 
watching from the side of Kenesaw, what progress we 
were making. 

We did not meet the enemy, and to us it seemed that 
the movement had been of little use, as the next day 
we learned that Alatoona was perfectly safe. Hood 
had threatened Rome, then Resaca, and we followed 
him closely. From Resaca we marched southwest 
along the Coosa River, reconnoitering and foraging 
and on the 20th or 21st of October pitched our camp 
near Cedar Bluffs. 

Hood had departed from the railroad, and we next 
heard of him before Decatur and still later that he was 
concentrating his forces near Florence, also in Alabama, 
on the north bank of the Tennessee River. 

Sherman's army was scattered all the way from 
Chattanooga, which General Thomas held, down the 



194 THE GUN-BEARER. 

railroad to Atlanta. Every exposed point was fortified 
with blockhouses or redoubts and strongly garrisoned. 

Hood was not our equal in strength and showed no 
disposition to attack us, but was quietly concentrating 
and organizing at Florence. Just what his purpose 
was, we did not know, but it was rumored that he had 
in view an advance into Eastern Tennessee. 

We, in the heart of Georgia, with one hand on the 
the main artery of the South, knowing that Hood was 
not strong enough to drive us out, felt that his object 
was to entice us away. If he succeeded and lured us 
back to Tennessee our toil for the summer was thrown 
away. What would grow out of the situation was a 
puzzling question. 

As a rule, soldiers, especially veterans, if they are 
well-fed and officered by men whom they respect, 
rarely bother their heads about plans for the future. 
The only time when they departed from this rule, to 
any extent, was at this crisis, when Sherman himself 
seemed in doubt. At this time the possibilities of and 
projects for the future were being thoroughly can- 
vassed. 

By the ist of November Sherman had reached a 
determination in regard to the Twenty-third Corps, at 
least. The Fourth Corps [Stanley's], 15,000 men, had 
been sent to reinforce Thomas, at Nashville. On the 
31st of October we, the Twenty-third Corps, under 
Schofield, 12,000 men, were ordered in the same direc- 
tion. At Resaca, Cooper's division halted ; but Cox's 
division pushed on. 

We entered again into the outlying spurs and well- 
constructed earth-works of Dalton, and, halting near the 
railroad, waited for transportation, northward, through 
Buzzard's Roost Gap, to Nashville. 

There was hardly a moment of the day or night 



THE GUN-BEARER. 195 

when we did not hear the "puff-puff " of locomotives 
drawing heavily loaded trains through the town or the 
shrill whistle of others dashing through the Gap to the 
north and around the curves and spurs of Rocky Face 
Ridge. 

Sherman was sending back all his stores in Atlanta, 
all his sick, wounded and disabled and all his baggage. 
There was life enough along the railroad in these hur- 
rying days, when endless trains went rattling and slam- 
ming by, headed for the North, trailing behind them 
banners of smoke and steam ; and when trains return- 
ing from the North brought recruits, ammunition and 
returning furloughed men. 

While waiting, we often went to the road to watch 
this constant flowing stream of war. And when a train 
of wounded men stopped near us we offered what 
assistance we could. Many a sad sight we saw. In 
box-cars, half full of straw or brush, lay sick and 
wounded, some with arms or legs or heads tied up, 
pale and sunken faces distorted with pain. Here and 
there lay one raving with fever. There were always 
water to be brought and little things to be done, which 
were works of mercy, and which we could do well 
enough to assist the tired, overworked surgeons and 
nurses. 

And what a change was there when, perhaps, the 
same train returned with recruits and furloughed men. 
The open doors of the box-cars would be filled with 
eager faces of green recruits, sturdy but inexperienced, 
looking far away before them, as if they expected to 
see the surrounding hills sparkling with fire. 

On the 3d or 4th of November a train ran in bound 
north, bearing soldiers looking hale and hearty. They 
were Cooper's division of our corps, who had taken the 
cars at Resaca. It was four days after they disappeared 



196 THE GUN-BEARER. 

through the Gap before we procured transportation 
and followed them, through Buzzard's Roost and Ring- 
gold, travelling over the old ground. 

As we rattled and jolted slowly northward, it seemed 
to us that the war was drawing to a close. We had 
read of the Confederate army penned in around Peters- 
burg, and we knew that the authorities at Richmond 
would not permit Atlanta to fall into our hands with- 
out sending assistance, if assistance could be spared. 

We read, too, of Sheridan flying up and down the 
valley of the Shenandoah. The stories of his exploits 
reminded us of our Fitzpatrick, and we enjoyed them. 

Mobile had fallen. No troops on the other side of 
the Mississippi were available to the enemy. Their 
forts on the sea-coast had also been mostly taken. 
Fort Fisher alone was hostile. 

We had left General Sherman behind us, making 
preparations for a grand undertaking, which we knew 
would not be long delayed. He was going to the sea, 
If he succeeded — and not a man among us doubted it — 
a broad road of ruin would be laid from border to 
border, directly through the heart of the would-be 
Southern nation. What could there be left for the Con- 
federacy ? The stars and bars were floating now over a 
disheartened but desperate country — a nation whose 
actual possessions were rapidly melting away — a nation 
on paper only. 

In due time we were landed in Pulaski, Tennessee. 
With us there were Stanley's Fourth Corps. To the 
south of us our cavalry, under Hatch, Croxton and' 
Capron, was scouring the country and watching Hood, 
who was still in Florence, organizing and preparing. 
Strickland's brigade of our division of the Twenty- 
third Corps was in camp at Columbia, a town behind 
us, on the road to Nashville, where General Thomas 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



197 



was drilling recruits. There, too, was Wilson's dis- 
mounted cavalry [10,000 men], and thither General A 
J. Smith was hastening from Missouri, with perhaps 
10,000 more. 

Hood, meanwhile, showed no decided signs of mov- 
ing. He had, no doubt, intended to be on the march 
before, but all his preparations were delayed by the 
wretched condition of the single track railroad over 
which his provisions and stores had to be transported, 
and by the state of the country, which was softened by 
rains and flooded by swollen rivers. 








CHAPTER XIX. 



Sherman had, at last, gone south and east, without a 
foe in his path. Hood, with fifty thousand men, had 
left Alabama, was slowly working his way north, aim- 
ing toward Pulaski and, just now, was making demon- 
strations on Lawrenceburg and Waynesboro, in middle 
Tennessee. We, perhaps ten thousand strong, were 
expected, so it afterward appeared, to oppose this ad- 
vancement, and give General Thomas an opportunity 
to still further recruit and increase his army at Nash- 
ville. 

The storms, which had delayed Hood for so long a 
time, were still raging ; and, while they had been for- 
tunate obstacles to his movements, they had also proved 
equally discouraging to us. 

A shower, or even a rainy day, now and then, was 
only a disagreeable incident, common to a soldier's life, 
and to be expected ; but these cold, continuous storms 
of rain, sleet, snow, hail and wind were a lasting misery 
and very demoralizing. 

If the weather had been all we had to contend with, 
however, we might have endured our hardships much 
better than we did, but we were sadly in need of cloth- 
ing. Mine was worn and thin. The skirts of my over- 
[198] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 199 

coat had been burned in a dozen places by coming 
too near the fire. A goodly number of us, also, were 
without blankets. Many a night, in stormy weather, 
we went into camp, wet and muddy, and without fire or 
blankets passed the night in sleepless misery. 

When we were at a safe distance from the enemy far 
enough away to indulge in a fire, I have stood half the 
night smoking my pipe, scorching, burning and drying 
my clothes, trying to warm myself and, at last, lie 
down on a pile of green boughs, with no other covering 
than a rubber blanket, and shivered myself to sleep. 

Rations, too, were not always plenty, and while, as 
yet, we had not been compelled to do without, we were 
far from being well fed, and sometimes had to eke out 
our supply of food with such forage as we could pick 
up from the already well plundered farmers along the 
road. 

The few families, who yet remained in Pulaski, had 
endured the hardships of war with a half-starved, 
heroic patience, born of necessity. This town had 
alternately been visited and robbed by both Union and 
Confederate soldiers, so that there were at best only 
small pickings for us ; but though the people were 
poor, and had scarcely provisions enough for them- 
selves, when any of our boys called on them for some- 
thing to eat, they were always given such as the house 
afforded, and as much as could be spared. 

Women who had hitherto been waited upon were 
compelled to learn the art of serving themselves, and 
much of the bitterness reported of these people in the 
early part of the war had disappeared ; their pride had 
been humbled, and in its place had sprung up a more 
respectful, if not a kindlier feeling toward the Union 
soldiers. 

We were well informed as to the movements of the 



200 THE GUN-BEARER. 

enemy, our information coming-, for the most part, from 
scouts, deserters from Hood's army — who occasionally 
came into our lines — or from cavalrymen, who were 
continually scouring the woods in front of us. 

The most positive knowledge concerning Hood's 
movements that we were able to get was obtained 
from an old negro, who came into our lines on the 
night of the 21st of November. 

Fred and Jake and I were on picket, and stationed 
by a clump of bushes, near the Lawrenceburg Road. 
The hour was hardly later than ten, when our attention 
was attracted by a low, rumbling noise, away up the 
road, coming from the direction of the enemy. 

The sound became louder and more distinct as it 
approached us. At times we fancied we heard voices. 
Was it possible the enemy were so near ? And were they 
moving toward us in such force as to set aside all 
thought of a surprise ? were questions we asked our- 
selves. 

We strained our ears to listen more carefully before 
sounding an alarm, and finally convinced ourselves that 
the noise proceeded from a rickety wagon. Later we 
were satisfied there was but one voice, and shortly after 
our fears were allayed by seeing, in the dim starlight, a 
man standing in a wagon, belaboring a mule with a 
stick, and calling out, at the top of his voice : 

"Git along dar, you mule ! Git along dar, git !" 

" Reckon I 'd better stop that fellow where he is," 
said Fred, as soon as the team came within hailing dis- 
tance. 

" No, no !" I responded. " Let him come a little 
nearer. Let 's see who the fellow is." 

" Whack,whack,whack !" resounded the stick as it struck 
the " cast-iron back " of the mule, while the wagon rattled 
its way toward us. Finally, Fred, who was unable to 



THE GITN-BEARER. 201 

restrain his impatience longer, cried out, in a tone 
unusually severe for him : 

"Halt!" 

"Golly! Who dar? Wha-what 's dat? What 's 
de matter ? What 's de matter ?" replied the startled 
darkey, as he gave a sudden jerk to the reins which 
brought his animal to a standstill. 

"Who goes there ?" 

" Nuffin' but a pore ol' nigga, who 's a-tryin' ter get 
away from de rebels and to jine de Yankees !" 

" What do you want to join the Yankees for ?" asked 
Fred. 

" Kaze I does ! I done got a heap tired ob de rebs, 
and I 's a gwine ter jine de odder side, I is !" 

" Well, what have you got in your wagon ; anything 
to eat ?" 

" Ain't got nuffin', marse boss, but a few ol' fings, 
what ain't no good ter nobody but a pore ol' nigga !" 

" Drive up this way. Let 's see who you are." 

" All right, marse ! I 's a comin', sho ! Git along 
dar, you mule ! Git along dar !" 

Again the stick was brought into service upon the 
back of the unimpressionable mule and again every 
bolt and rivet in the old wagon clattered and rattled as 
it moved toward us. 

"There," said Fred, "stop where you are." 

" All right, marse ! Tell me ; is you de Yankee 
soldiers ?" 

" Yes," replied Fred. " Where are you from ?" 

" 'Bout two miles from Lawrenceburg." 

" What are you running away for ? Don't you know 
the Johnnies are not within nine miles of you ?" 

" Gollies, marse, I knows dat ; but dis chile 's power- 
ful afraid of a flank movemant. Dat 's what 's de matter 
wid me." 



202 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Where are the Johnnies now." 

" Dey was in de 'burg this morning, and I jest got up 
an' skedaddled 'fo' dey had de time ter flank me." 
" Do you know how much of an army Hood has ?" 
" I don' know, Marse, but dey has a heap o' men, and 
dey's jist a gwine ter do a heap o' flanking, so I heerd 
de white people sayin', but dey don' flank this chicken — 
not much." 

■' Where did you hear the rebs were going ?" 
•' Dey 's a gwine ter git in the raar of de Yankees, an' 
is a makin' for Duck Ribber." 

" Was Hood's army moving when you left." 
" Yes, an' dey was on deir road to Pulaski." 
" Was the whole of Hood's army moving or only a 
portion of it ?" 

" I heerd dey was all amovin'." 
" Think I'll take this fellow in," said Fred. 
" Drive this way a bit, uncle, and I'll go with you. 
Perhaps the captain would like to ask a few questions." 
" All, right, marse, I'll do all I kin, de Lawd knows. 
I dunno much, but I'll tell de cap'n dat sho. Git along 
dar, you mule ; git along dar, git !" shouted the darkey 
to his mule as Fred got into the wagon, which soon 
disappeared in the darkness, down the road toward 
camp. 

Shortly after Fred returned to his post, and, with his 
welcome presence, brought the information that our 
wagon trains had already begun to leave Pulaski, were 
on the road to Columbia, and that we would probably 
shake the mud of that place from our feet before long. - 
A little after daylight next morning we were called 
in, to find that orders had been given for the entire 
force to fall back to Lynnville, a little place, about half 
way between Pulaski and Columbia. Here we were 
joined by Wagner's Division of the Fourth Corps, and 



THE GUN-BEARER. 203 

with them intrenched ourselves in positions covering 
the road leading from Lawrenceburg. We remained at 
this point two or three days, and it was while we were here 
that Black Lige disappeared. Captain Hartees seemed 
to take the matter philosophically enough, and said that 
he would see him again before long ; that his wife and 
children lived not far from Columbia. 

On the night of the 23d we left our intrenchments 
and fell back to Hurricane, which is ten miles farther 
north, and toward Columbia. 

Jake, who was one of the first to get the news of this 
movement, came up to the fire, where a little group of 
us were making preparations for breakfast, and said : 

" We 've got to move again, boys. I tell you what, 
we ain't got nothing to say about Hood not being 
smart. He 's turning the tables on us with a vengeance. 
We don't no sooner get settled in a place than we have 
to get. Just the same as Johnston did before Sher- 
man." 

" Where are we going now ?" I asked, as soon as I 
could get a word in. 

"To Hurricane. Hood's a chasin' us up mighty 
sharp, you bet. He 's a-getting over the roads after us 
about as fast as we can get out of his way. If we keep 
on at this rate we '11 see Nashville soon, I 'm thinking." 

" Yes ; but we 're not going to see it without first 
having a fight that '11 be a bad one for Hood," inter- 
rupted Kimball, as he calmly blew the ashes off a 
roasted potato, which he very mysteriously produced 
from the hot ashes near the edge of the fire. 

" Fight !" repeated Jake, abstractedly, as his eye 
fastened on the potato. " Fight ! Where 'd you get 
that potato ?" 

Here everybody laughed at the sudden change in 
Jake's manner — from a grumbling tone of voice to that 



204 THE GUN-BEAKER. 

of a person intensely interested in something to eat. 
But he recovered quickly, and resumed : 

" If we are ever going to do any more fighting, it 's 
about time we were at it. It 's mighty discouraging — 
this weather, not enough to eat, and a running away 
from a lot of graybacks, that haven't known in a long 
time what it was to win a fight. No wonder we haven't 
seen the sun since the day we left Pulaski. I 'm dogged 
if I don't believe he 's ashamed to shine on us for sneak- 
ing away from the enemy all the time." 

" Keep cool, Jake ; keep cool, my boy," replied Kim- 
ball, breaking the roasted potato in half, and handing 
one of the pieces to his grumbling comrade. 

" ' Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow; 
Don' yer bodder 'bout yer trouble till it comes.' 

" We '11 get all the fighting we want before we reach 
Nashville, don't you worry." 




CHAPTER XX. 

We started early in the afternoon for Hurricane, 
which we reached late that night. A little before day- 
break, on the following morning, we were aroused by 
musketry firing, west of us and immediately were in 
rapid motion toward it. After marching a little more 
than two miles through the woods, we came in fall 
view of an engagement between Forrest's cavalry and 
a part of Stanley's command. 

" It 's a cavalry fight," said Jake ; " and we ain't here 
any too quick for 'em either. Our boys are backing 
out. See !" 

We had hardly discovered this fact when we heard 
firing from the right of our own line. Simultaneously 
came the order : 

" Column, front into line !" 

" Now Mr. Johnnie, look out," said Kimball. 

" Fix bayonets !" 

" That 's business," said Jake, as the click and clatter 
which immediately followed this order, ran up and 
down the line. " If we can't make Johnnie Reb skee- 
dadle, this time, we 'd better go home." 

" Forward, double quick, march !" 

There were no laggards at that command ; every 
man was in his place, all anxious to make the most of 

[205] 



206 THE GUN-BEARER. 

an opportunity to drive the enemy back. After reach- 
ing easy range, came the command : 

" Halt ! Load and fire at will ! Load !" 

" Now then !" said Fred, as he tore away the flap of 
a cartridge with his teeth. " We '11 show 'em what 's 
what !" 

By this time a rapidly increasing fire, from the whole 
length of our line, was being poured into the ranks of 
the enemy ; who, dismayed and bewildered at the 
sudden appearance of a force they evidently had not 
counted on, speedily fell back in great confusion. The 
punishment inflicted being so severe that they did not 
again trouble us. 

Later we fell back to Columbia, where we threw up 
breastworks and otherwise strongly intrenched our- 
selves south of the town. 

Most of us were heartily sick of Hood's flank move- 
ments. To make ready for an enemy and then not 
have him do as you want him to is vexatious enough 
when it occurs only once in a while ; but when it hap- 
pens right along, without any change whatever, 
the life of a soldier becomes monotonous in the ex- 
treme. 

We were all anxious to bring matters to a crisis ; to 
force a condition of things where our position would, 
in a measure, balance Hood's greater numerical strength 
'and where he would be compelled to fight. The work 
we had just completed at this place seemed to me all 
that could be desired for this purpose, and I suggested 
the probability of meeting the enemy and having our 
trial with him here. 

" You wait !" responded Jake. " Wait till Hood comes 
up with his force and sees what we 've been doing. 
There 's nothing to prevent him from flanking us here, 
same as he 's done in other places. We '11 have to get 



THE GUN-BEARER. 207 

out here in a hurry before long, I 'm thinking ; then all 
this dirt digging goes for nothing." 

" Well," said Fred in reply, " we can't help it, if we 
do have to get out. I hope, though, we '11 reach a 
place before long where we can give Hood a warming. 
He 's stronger than we, to be sure, and 't would be fool- 
ish enough to try and break him up until we have 
Thomas's army to help us. We can punish him badly, 
though, if we are well intrenched and he ever gives us 
the chance." 

Jake gave a grunt of disapproval and turned away. 
He did not " take stock " in Hood's ever giving us that 
chance ; but Kimball did and quickly responded : 

" He '11 give us all the chance we want, sure 's my 
name 's Kimball, and that, too, before we reach Thomas. 
He won't content himself by doing as Sherman did. 
He '11 try and do better — be smarter, like." 

Our well-defended front kept the enemy quiet for a 
long time ; but on the night of the 25th there were 
whisperings of a flank movement. Shortly after, in 
company with another brigade we left our intrench- 
ments and marched through Columbia to Duck River, 
which we crossed on the pontoons. 

The stream at this place describes a sharp curve, and 
the point upon which we were halted and expected to 
defend, if need be, was partly surrounded by the frown- 
ing bluffs on the Columbia side. The next morning we 
were again called up to handle the pick and shovel. 

Breastworks were thrown up a little way from the 
river bank, but the position was one of the worst that 
could have been selected. Do what we might, there 
was absolutely no protection for us. We were on noth- 
ing like an even footing with the enemy. 

I never had found a great deal of fault with places 
that had heretofore been selected as best suited for 



208 THE GUN-BEARER. 

defense, because, for one good reason, I did not, for a 
long time, know much about these things ; and, sec- 
ondly, I was never much of a faultfinder on any occa- 
sion ; but I could not help ventilating my opinion as to 
this position. 

I had learned something in my past six months of 
active army life — something of movements and defensi- 
ble positions, and was thereby enabled to talk under- 
standing^ at this time and on this particular subject. 
A man, without any special knowledge of such matters, 
could have seen, at a glance, the position we then occu- 
pied could not be held. In reply to what I had to say 
on the subject, Fred said : 

" It 's a fact, Dan, it 's not much of a place for 
intrenchments ; and, for the life of me, I can't see the 
use of wasting labor here when we might do better 
farther on. Orders are orders, though ; and whether 
they 're for good or for bad, we 've got to obey them." 

" I reckon Hood '11 make mincemeat of us if he catches 
us in this fix," remarked Jake, who had been listening 
to our conversation. "Just see what a chance for a 
cross-fire of artillery," pointing to the hight bluff on the 
other side of the river. " Why, they can just toss per- 
cussion shell on to our heads if they want to, and we 
can't help ourselves. Just after breakfast I heard that 
the whole of our army was going to leave the works on 
the other side to-night, and come over here." 

" What else can they do ?" responded Fred. " They 
can't hold out against Hood's whole army." 

" No," I don't expect they can," answered Jake. 
" Neither do I expect Hood's army is going to give 'em 
much of a chance, if they wanted to fight ever so bad. 
I '11 tell you what, boys. I 'm getting sick of this. I 'd 
a heap rather fight than dig dirt." 

"Well, Jake, you '11 soon have a chance," said Kim- 



THE G UN-BEARER. 209 

ball, " they 're having a little skirmish now, along the 
line, outside the town. Don't you hear them ? That 
sounds as if Hood was drawing in on our front, 
don't it?" 

" Yes, I hear 'em," said Jake, as he rested his foot on 
his spade, a moment, " but that don't signify anything. 
He 's just thrown out a few skirmishers to hold our 
attention while the balance of his army is working 
around in our rear. I 'm afraid it 's only another 
signal for us to fall back again." 

"Well, I don't care if it is," said Fred. "This is a 
little the worst place for a stand that I ever got into." 
Every one echoed this sentiment, but, as usual, we kept 
at our work until it was finished. 

Late that night, I awoke shivering with the cold, 
and had to get up and move around to warm myself, 
for we dare not have any fires now. The river and the 
high bank on the opposite side were shrouded in gloom. 
I could see nothing in this inky blackness, but on one 
side, I could hear the tramp, tramp, tramp of infantry, 
crossing the railroad bridge, and on the other side, the 
scuffle of many feet on the pontoons. 

As I stood listening to the various sounds of the 
night, I heard a familiar voice singing, softly — 

"I '11 be dar, 

I '11 be dar, 

Wen dejudgmen' roll is call, 

I '11 be dar." 

" Ho, Lige !" I called. " Is that you ?" 
" Yes, Maws Dan." 
" Where 've you been ?" 
" Been home ter see my wife." 
" See her ?" 

"Yes. She 's dar still. Hed a powerful good time, 
Maws Dan ! Powerful good time !" 



210 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Where 's Hood ?" 

" He 's a gwine ter work around in our raar. Gwine 
ter cross de ribber above here a piece and git in 'tween 
us an' Nashville. Here, Maws Dan, take dis ! Dinah 
bake dat dis mawnin'." 

I held out my hand in the darkness and received a 
spongy substance, which proved to be a most delicious 
corn pone. 

" They 've got us in a box here, Lige !" I said ; but 
he was gone, and I heard him, as he vanished in the 
darkness, singing, as usual, to himself : 

" Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow." 

There was a peculiar philosophy for me in that song, 
and, as I ate my corn pone before going to sleep, I 
determined not to bother about trouble until it came. 

In the gray of the early morning, while moving 
farther down the stream, we discovered that the whole 
of our little army had crossed the river in the night 
and that the bridges, over which they had passed, had 
disappeared. 

We reached our new position and had intrenched 
ourselves in it by sunrise. The sky was dark and 
cloudy, and the deep shadows of night still lingered in 
the chill mists that clung to the trees on both sides of 
the river. Fred and I stood on the edge of the bank, 
gazing up and down the stream ; everything was so 
quiet on the opposite side that we had no thought of 
danger here. Just at this moment, however, Captain 
Hartees, who had come up, unobserved, behind us, 
shouted : 

" Look out, boys — down !" 

We three dropped to earth, instantly ; and almost at 
the same instant two reports from the thick woods 
above us, on the other side, followed by the "zip, zip " of 



THE GUN-BEARER. 211 

two bullets passing harmlessly over our heads, ex- 
plained the importance of the caution. 

" Close rub that, cap'n," said Fred. 

" Got to keep your eyes open sharp," replied Hartees, 
as he arose and quickly disappeared through the woods 
in our rear. 

" Queer," said Fred, as he turned and looked after 
the captain, " queer ; that man \s always around when 
we 're in danger. Come, we can't follow his advice any 
too quickly ; let 's get out of this. There 's another." 
A flash, a little puff of smoke, a report, and another 
whistling evidence that the enemy were watching hur- 
ried us back to the shelter of our rifle pits, where we 
were content to await further developments. 

Later in the forenoon a succession of brighter flashes, 
from the woods skirting the edge of the bluff, followed 
by clouds of smoke, the roar of cannon and the shrill 
piping shell, announced that the enemy had his artillery 
in position and was disposed to use it. Still later, our 
own artillery behind us, replied to the enemy's fire, and 
kept it up at intervals throughout the day. 

It was an artillery duel, with a stream of water 
separating the combatants ; but with the exception of 
making a deafening roar, neither side enjoyed any 
peculiar advantage over the other. 

Late in the afternoon, during a lull in the firing, 
some one shouted : 

" Look, the Johnnies are coming out of the woods ! 
They are running down the bank and are going to 
cross." 

" Fact !" said Fred, peering through the bushes in 
front of us. " And they 're bringing their pontoons 
with them." 

" How many are there ?" I asked. 

** Perhaps two or three regiments," answered Fred. 



212 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" May be there are more. Look out ! There goes the 
artillery again, to cover 'em. Let 'em fire if they want 
to ; it won't do 'em any good." 

" What 's the matter with our own batteries ?" I 
asked, noting that the firing was all from one side. 

" Oh they '11 get 'round to it later — but what 's that 
going on there over on the other side ?" 

" Why, what do you see ?" 

" I don't know as I see anything now, but I thought 
I saw a — a — yes and by Jove I did see it too ;" said 
Fred, excitedly pulling back the hammer to his rifle 
which he raised to a level with the earth in front of us. 
" See there, will you, over there by that little open 
space in the woods, and on a line with that chimney 
above ; see 'em, the Johnnies, they 're coming down the 
hill, and, as sure 's you live, they 're going to cross. 
Now 's our time, Dan, let 's put in some good work, 
my boy, while we have a chance. There 's one of 'em 
now. Just keep your eye on that fellow in the lead ; 
the one with the pole on his shoulder, I mean." 

Looking in the direction indicated, I saw, among a lot 
of stalwart fellows coming down the hill and struggling 
through the thick underbrush, which at that point 
reached the water's edge, the head and shoulders of a 
man, made more conspicuous than his comrades by a 
stout pole he carried on his shoulder. While watching, 
I heard the crack of my companion's rifle, and instantly 
saw this man stumble and fall. 

" How was that, Dan ? Did I hit him ?" 

" Think you did," I replied ; " he fell over as soon as- 
you fired, and those who were with him disappeared at 
the same time." 

We '11 just lay for those fellows, now, and give 'em a 
warming. They will break cover directly, and we '11 
have a good whack at 'em before they get away." 



THE GUN-BEARER. 213 

Presently the enemy appeared near the water's edge 
with their pontoons, which were quickly launched, 
loaded, pushed off and started in an oblique line for our 
side of the river. Fred and I fired again and again, but 
with what effect we could not see, the enemy working 
hurriedly, paying no regard to us. 

" Well," said Fred, speculatively, as he eyed the cross- 
ing boats, " they 're not going to land here, at all events. 
They '11 bring up somewhere below us, I 'm thinking." 

I confessed I was not sorry ; for, with our scattered 
line in the pits, we could not hold out against any body 
of men. It was true there was not more than a 
brigade of the enemy, at most ; but they were to- 
gether. 

The boats soon passed from sight, under cover of the 
bank, and it was not until toward dusk that we heard 
anything more of them. Then a rapid succession of 
shots gave signal for "the rebel yell," which was 
answered by loud shouts from the heights on the oppo- 
site side, supplemented, in turn, by a roar of artillery 
and small arms. 

" That 's business," said Fred, " and if there were 
more of them it might be just as well for us if we got 
out of this ; but they can't spread, they '11 lose their 
grip if they do." 

" Sounds as if our skirmishers were on the run." 

14 Of course they are. They '11 fall back until they 
reach the main line, and then, Mister Johnnie, look 
out." 

At this moment the enemy's battery ceased firing, 
and we could hear our men contesting every inch of 
the way in their retreat. Later, the tone of the shout- 
ing was changed, and we heard the welcome shouts of 
the reinforced skirmishers, who were now returning 
and driving the Confederates before them. 



214 THE GUN-BEARER. 

As the noise of the conflict drew nearer, some of the 
boys began to leave their pits, when Hartees shouted : 

" Down, every mother's son of you ! Don't let a man 
leave his post until he gets orders !" 

" That 's the thing to do always," said Fred. " Better 
be in the reserve all day and stay there until you 're 
wanted, than rush into a fight when you 're not needed. 
Rosseau 's got all the help he wants to run the Johnnies 
into the river." 

More and more distinct became the tramp of feet ; 
louder and nearer grew the rattle of musketry, as 
pursuers and pursued approached the bank of the 
river. Finally the tramping ceased, and a line of 
flashes from the rifles of our troops seemed to say : 

" The enemy have reached the water and we 're do- 
ing our level best to drive them into it." 

Almost immediately the artillery from the other side 
again opened on us, and we were compelled to lie low 
and keep out of the way. This time, too, our guns re- 
sponded to the fire and, I fancied, with rather more 
spirit than before. 

It is tedious business to be compelled to fold your 
hands and submit to inactivity in a rifle pit, but there 's 
no help for it when a battery, stationed a short distance 
in your rear, is keeping up an incessant firing over your 
heads. The roar of cannon, the scream and hiss and 
shriek of flying lead and iron, the uncontrollable feeling 
of dread and doubt, intensified by every bursting shell, 
maddens and keeps the nerves strained to their Utmost. 
But we had no choice in the matter, and there we lay, 
smoked our pipes and listened and shivered and waited. 

After a while our fire slackened considerably and 
finally ceased altogether. Still later we heard a few 
orders given, which were quickly followed by the move- 
ments of "limbering up," then the familiar cluck of 



THE GUN-BEARER. 215 

gun-carriage wheels, growing fainter and fainter as the 
battery moved away. 

" Thank heaven, they 're gone !" said Fred, a few 
moments after their departure. " I 'm tired of artillery 
fighting, and don't want to hear any more of it in a 
hurry. There 's always so much bluster and smoke and 
bellowing about it. It 's all well enough to be backed 
up by a battery or to know you can have one when you 
want it, but it 's a mighty noisy helper." 

" Nothing like it for shrapnel or for grape or canister, 
just when the enemy are bearing down on you a little 
too hard, eh ?" 

" Oh, yes ; artillery's a mighty good thing then, but 
too noisy for steady work at short range. Great Scott, 
how my head aches ! Fit to burst, and my ears fairly 
ring with the infernal noise they made. Well, they 're 
gone and we can straighten up once more. But we 've- 
got to keep our eyes open. I wonder what 's going on 
in the rear ?" 

Looking in that direction I saw, in the fading light, 
the shadowy forms of orderlies flitting to and fro among 
the trees. 

" What 's up ?" asked Fred. 

" Looks as if we were getting ready to move again," 
I replied. " Do you think we are ?" 

" Hard to tell. There 's Jake, just coming out of 
the woods and crawling toward his pit. Hail him and 
see what he has to say about it." 

"Ho, Jake !" I cried. "What's the matter back 
there ?" 

" Matter enough," responded Jake. " Forrest's cav- 
alry has crossed the river below us, and they 're to 
swing around on our flank so as to strike our left and 
rear." 

" Where 's Hood ?" 



216 THE GUN-BEARER. 

"Crossed^he river farther up, and is coming down 
the other way." 

" What have we got to do ?" 

'• Stay where we are. The entire force, with the ex- 
ception of the Twelfth and Sixteenth Kentucky, are 
going to fall back to Franklin." 

" What are we to be left behind for ?" 

" We 've got to do skirmish duty until midnight, then 
we '11 git too. By that time, though, Hood '11 be be- 
tween us and Franklin, and we '11 not only have to frog 
it ten or fifteen miles, but we 11 also have to do some 
mighty sharp work, I 'm thinking, to git by the rebs 
without being seen. They '11 gobble us, sure 's you 
live, if they only catch sight of us. It 's always the 
way. Whenever there 's any dirty work to do the 
Twelfth and Sixteenth have got to do it." 

" Our forces start soon, then ?" 

"Start ? They 've already started. There 's going to 
be some awful close work in the next forty-eight 
hours," muttered Jake to himself, as he turned and 
crawled back his post. 

" Gad, Dan !" said Fred. " This is a bad business — 
a mighty bad business, whether it 's orders or not ! 
This gives us no chance at all, and leaves us completely 
at the mercy of the enemy. We 're only a handful of 
men, at best, and we 've been left here to be taken 
prisoners, to be slaughtered or anything else, so long 
as an appearance is kept up that our whole force has 
not stepped out." 

" It seems as if it wouldn't have been any more than 
fair to have put some one else down for this work," 
said I. " Hardly the right thing to make two regiments 
do this kind of work all the time." 

" That 's just what 's the matter," assented Fred, his 
face suddenly assuming a thoughtful expression. Then 



THE GUN-BEARER. 217 

rousing himself, he asked, in a voice which had not a 
trace of discouragement in it : 

" What have you got to eat ?" 

" Only half a dozen hard tack. Why ?" 

" Nothing much. Only that 's six more than I 've 
got, and it seems to me that it 's about time that we 
were eating something. I 'm as hungry as a wolf, and 
have only a small piece of bacon." 

" No pork ?" 

" No. Pork 's been a mighty scarce article lately. 
What with Forrest's Cavalry flying here and there all 
the time, being always on the move ourselves, and the 
bad roads, it 's a wonder to me that we get anything 
to eat." 

" Trot out your bacon then, if that 's all you 've got, 
and we '11 divide ! Here 's three hard tack for you !" 

" Hark !" interrupted Fred, suddenly, standing up 
and assuming a listening attitude. " What 's that ? 
Skirmishers to the rear ? Hello there, sergeant, what 's 
the matter now ?" 

" Orders to leave here," replied the sergeant, hur- 
riedly. " Got to take position farther down the river — 
just beyond the bend. Better get over there lively ; 
the rest of the boys have started." 

" Here 's some of our boys now," said Fred. " Let 's 
go along with them. Here is Jake and Kimball and 
Taylor—" 

" Well, Fred, they 're bound to do us up this time, 
sure," said Jake, not giving Fred an opportunity to fin- 
ish his sentence. " This is what I call rough — to make 
a fellow leave trenches like these for a place where, I '11 
bet, there ain't no cover at all." 

" Rough or not, we 've got to make the best of it," 
replied Fred. " It 's all in ' three years or during the 
war.' What 's troubling me now, more than anything 



218 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



else, is something to eat." Then to me : "We '11 have 
to postpone our supper until later, Dan ; guess we 
might as well divide those hard tack now, and the bacon 
when we stop. Come !" 

Leaving our narrow quarters, we followed on after 
our comrades. Almost perfect silence was observed 
during the half hour we were changing positions. Only 
the muffled tramp of feet, the cracking of twigs or the 
rustling of leaves gave any indication of our movement. 




CHAPTER XXI. 

I had no desire to talk, for my mind was filled with 
the gloomiest forebodings. We were only a handful 
of men, and I had no doubt that Hood's army was at 
that moment cutting off all hope of retreat to Franklin. 

A little beyond the bend we found men, belonging to 
other companies, stationed at regular intervals along 
the bank, and, just as Jake predicted, where there was 
little or no protection from the enemy's fire, in case 
they should open on us. 

Fred and I were assigned to one post and, after the 
sergeant with the rest of the company had left us, we 
endeavored in the darkness to take in our new position. 
As near as we could make out, we were near a ford. 
Directly in front of us were two small trees standing 
close together. A little beyond this, we heard the 
river with its whirling and plashing current of black 
waters. The night air was heavy with moisture, which 
hung over us like a pall, and made the darkness, 
shrouding both sides of the river, more intense, more 
impenetrable. 

We immediately set to work with our bayonets and 
hands, and soon had piled the earth high enough, be- 
tween the two trees, to make a comparatively safe 
shelter for ourselves. The enemy's picket, which lined 

[219] 



220 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the opposite side of the river, at this point, seemed de- 
termined to make our position as uncomfortable as 
possible, and opened fire on us occasionally. This made 
it necessary for us to lie flat on the earth most of the 
time. 

During the intervals of firing, with the exception of 
some far-away echo or the sound of the stream as it 
flowed lapsing and sucking by the banks or rippled 
over the shallows at the ford, the silence, after the roar 
of artillery through the day, was startling. After lying 
in this position some moments I felt something touch me. 

" What is it ?" I asked nervously. 

" Bacon," answered the reassuring voice of Fred. 
" It ain't much of a supper, Dan, but it 's all we 've got, 
and we 'd better eat it now." 

Neither of us had a drop of water in our canteens, 
and we were both chilled to the marrow ; but I cannot 
remember when I ever enjoyed a meal more thoroughly 
than I did my share of the last six crackers and an 
equal part of Fred's bacon. 

For fully a quarter of an hour the solemn stillness 
reigned. Then suddenly, as if in obedience to a given 
signal, a line of fire blazed out from the woods on the 
opposite bank, and the whistle and zip of a shower of 
bullets struck among the leaves around us or flew harm- 
lessly over our heads. 

Word was quietly passed from post to post along the 
line that our safety depended on silence and hugging 
the earth as closely as possible. We made ourselves as 
comfortable as we could, and listened to a sound, like 
the noise made by an army crossing a pontoon bridge, 
somewhere below us. 

" Our line can't be a very long one," I said. "The 
enemy don't seem to have any opposition in crossing." 

" Sound travels a good bit on the water. Then our 



THE GUN-BEARER. 221 

heads are close to the earth, and we can hear a noise 
like that made below a long way off." 

" This sort of thing can't last long," said I. " Hood 
is close upon us, and it seems to me he 's going to force 
a fight soon." 

" That 's what he 's after, you may depend. Well, 
some of our boys have been aching for a fight for a 
long time. As if one fight would settle anything !" 

" There 's one thing we 've learned, and that is to 
appreciate the feelings of Johnston's army when it was 
being pressed by Sherman. It isn't the fight the boys 
want so much as it is to be doing something. Action 
is better than freezing." 

" I 'd rather get warm some other way. There they 
go again !" 

Once more the enemy opened fire upon us ; this time 
a little heavier than usual. Almost simultaneously a 
voice on my right cried out in agony : 

" Oh ! Oh ! Oh !" 

" God !" said Fred. " Who 's that ?" 

" Oh, help !" 

" Careful !" said Fred, loud enough to be heard by the 
wounded man. " Don't let 'em hear you on the other 
side. They '11 fire again if they do." 

" Oh— I— can't— help— it ! Oh ! Oh ! Help me ! 
Help !" 

" I can't stand this," I said to Fred, and started to 
relieve the sufferer ; but Fred pulled me back, saying : 

" Be careful, Dan, you can't do him any good, and the 
rebs will fire again as soon as they hear him." 

" I don't care if they do. I 'm — " 

" H-e-l-p !" shrieked the poor unfortunate, with all 
the strength at his command. 

As this cry of distress echoed up and down the river, 
another blaze from the enemy's rifles, and another 



222 THE GUN-BEARER. 

shower of bullets whistled through the air uncomfort- 
ably near us. One of these missiles struck the tree 
nearest us and burst. 

" My God !" exclaimed Fred, who had observed this 
fact. " They 're firing explosive bullets at us. There 's 
no help for a fellow if he ever gets hit with one of those 
things." 

An instant of silence and another agonized voice cried 
out : 

"Come here, somebody, quick i" 

" Who 's that ?" I asked of Fred, thinking I knew the 
voice. 

" Oh, hurry, some one — quick ! For God's sake, help 
me, quick ! I can't do anything alone. Jake ! Fred ! 
Dan !" 

"Yes," said Fred, who had located the voice, and was 
now, regardless of his caution to me, moving quickly 
toward the spot whence it came. I also started, but 
in the other direction, to aid the first comrade who 
called. I found him only a short distance away. He 
was lying on his side, dead. I felt of his face ; it was 
beardless, and covered with a cold sweat. I could not 
tell, in the pitchy darkness, who he was, and I crawled 
back to my post, where I was soon joined by my com- 
panion. 

" Who was it, Fred ?" I asked. 

" It was — was — ah, how can I say it ! How can I 
believe that he is dead !" 

Then, after a pause, he continued : 

" It was — Kimball, poor fellow. He was shot in the 
shoulder, and, when I got there, was trying to prevent 
himself from bleeding to death. He had pulled up the 
cape of his overcoat, and was trying to press it into the 
wound. He told me what he had done, and that his 
entire shoulder seemed to have been shattered by an 



THE GUN-BEARER. 223 

explosive bullet. I took out my big red handkerchief 
to help him, but 't was no use ; before I could think of 
what I ought to do, he said : ' Give me some water, Fred,' 
and fell over dead." 

" He is the first of our mess to go," I said. 

" Yes ; we 've been together a long time, Dan, and 
to think this is the end. Kimball was a brave soldier, 
Dan ; he never shirked his duty. Many a time, when 
he 's been as much used up as any of us, he has helped 
you and me and others over hard places. Then, he was 
always ready to divide rations with his comrades. Poor 
Kimball ! God help us all ! Common bullets are bad 
enough, but these infernal machines — they 're only fit 
to be used by cowards and assassins." 

" It 's too bad !" I said. " The other one on the right 
is also dead." 

" Did you go to him ?" 

"Yes." 

" Who was he ?" 

" I don't know. No one I could think of in our com- 
pany. This has been a bad night for us, so far. I 
wonder how much longer they intend to keep us here ?" 

"Oh, I don't know what to think ! If you 'd been 
over there with Kimball when he was hopelessly strug- 
gling for his life and been made to feel as I did, that 
only a few minutes were left in which to do anything, 
and then to know you were powerless and unable to 
save him, you would feel as dazed as I do. I 've left 
many a good man behind me in a charge and, in the 
excitement of the moment, thought nothing of it ; at 
least, it never made the impression on me this has. 
There is only one thought uppermost in my mind, and 
that 's Kimball. I wish we were out of this. In all 
the time I 've been in the service, I never felt as I do 
now." 



224 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Oh, pshaw !" I said, trying to make light of Fred's 
melancholy mood. " There 's no use getting blue over 
what can't be helped. You 're only cold and nervous." 

"I feel as if something were going to happen." Then, 
as if he had suddenly realized he was getting to be a 
trifle childish, he added : " This day's work has been 
too much for me. Look out, there they go again !" 

Once more the rifles of the enemy flash out in the 
darkness on the opposite bank, and this time a shower 
of bullets whistled harmlessly over our heads. After 
an instant of silence, the clear ringing voice of 
Hartees, echoed up and down the river : 
_"At-ten-tion!" 

Absolute silence was preserved along the line, on 
both sides. It seemed as if the river had ceased to 
flow ; that the leaves had stopped their rustling ; that 
even the winds, with bated breath, had paused for what 
might follow. Again the commanding voice of our 
captain pierced the chilly night air : 

"Men," he said, "if another shot is fired from the 
other side to-night, open every gun on them." 

" That ought to fix them," said Fred, in a low tone. 

Fix them it did, for they had not forgotten the shell- 
ing of the afternoon, and must have been in doubt 
whether our artillery was still before them or not. 
However that may have been, the picket on the other 
side did no more shooting that night. 

An hour later I took Fred's canteen and my own and 
crept out from behind our shelter, toward the river 
bank, where I dropped silently down. There, on hands 
and knees, through mud and ooze, to the water's edge, 
I felt my way, filled both canteens, and returned to my 
post. 

Once I heard the breaking of a twig, not far from 
me ; then came a hurried rustle of leaves, quickly fol- 



THE GUN-BEARER. 225 

lowed by a furtive intermittent noise, as of an animal 
moving through the woods. " It is the wind," thought I, 
" or, perchance, some of my comrades who, like myself, 
have been to the river for water." 

Whatever it was that occasioned the noise, nothing 
further occurred until midnight, when I heard a slight 
movement in our rear, as if some one was cautiously 
approaching. I listened intently, and fixed my eyes in 
the direction from which the noise came. The dark- 
ness was impenetrable. I could discern nothing. 

Suddenly a sound, as of a musket-stock striking a 
stone or stump, and then : 

" Who goes there ?" from Fred, in a quick, low tone. 

" Co'p'l o' the guard," came a suppressed reply. 

" Oh, it 's you, Dick, is it ? What "s up ?" 

" Goin' to git out o' this at once. Goin' to fall back 
to Franklin. Fall in on the Pike 's the orders." 

" Thank God for that ! Did you know Kimball was 
gone ?" 

" What ? Dead ?" 

" Dead." 

" That 's bad. Where is he ?" 

" Next post. Can't a few of us bury him ?" 

" No ; we 've got no time to do that. It 's mighty 
hard to leave him to be stripped by the rebs, but there 's 
no help for it now. Did he have any valuables with 
him — a watch or anything ?" 

" I know he had a watch, but I didn't have the heart 
to look for it or for anything else ?" 

" His friends would like 'em, mebbe. Where does he 
lay ?" 

" About a dozen rods, in a straight line, below us." 

" I '11 take a look. Hurry back to the road. We 've 
got no time to lose. Rebs are already between us and 
Franklin. Ought to have been out of this an hour ago." 



226 THE GUN-BEARER. 

As the corporal hurried away we started for the road 
from which we had been separated by a narrow belt of 
woods. Here we groped and stumbled and fell, being 
compelled at times to almost feel our way, the darkness 
was so intense. Once Fred took hold of my arm and said : 

" Stop a bit. Didn't somebody call me ?" 

" No," I replied. 

" Thought I heard my name." 

'• Imagination," I said. 

" Perhaps so, but somehow the sound of Kimball's 
voice keeps ringing in my ears. I fancied I heard 
some one calling for help." 

" Come," I said, " let 's get out of this. We 've a long 
tramp ahead of us, and but little time to do it in." 

After pausing a moment or two longer, and satisfy- 
ing himself that the sounds he heard were only the prod- 
uct of his imaginings, Fred let go of my arm, saying, 
as he did so : 

" Well, we can do no good here." Then, with a sigh : 
" I hate to leave a man like Kimball was lying there 
like a dog. We may as well go, though." 

Again we groped our way through the woods, Fred 
occupied with his thoughts, I with mine, and neither of 
us speaking. Just before reaching the road I kicked 
along a small object which aroused my curiosity. 

Stooping down, I picked up what proved to be a sol- 
dier's cap. It was just what I wanted, for mine was 
worn and old and the visor was twisted out of shape. 
The cap I had just found was apparently new. I could 
tell that by feeling the nap on the cloth. The visor 
was also straight. - 

Passing my hand mechanically around the lining, my 
fingers suddenly slipped through a ragged hole in front 
and above the visor strap. The inside band was also 
wet and stuck to my fingers. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 227 

With a thrill of horror I dropped the cap, satisfied 
that the owner had been shot through the head, and if 
it were now day instead of night I should see him lying 
dead within a few feet of me. As a full sense of the 
picture filled me, I could not help the thought, " If a 
soldier must yield his life for his country, better die a 
swift death like that than die as Kimball did." 

A few steps farther on I reached the road, but was 
surprised to hear none of our men passing, nothing but 
the far-off sound of footsteps hurrying on their way to 
Franklin. Here I also discovered that my companion 
was not with me. This startled me into a realizing 
sense of my loneliness, and I waited and wondered. 
Where was Fred ? 

Had I loitered ? I was not conscious of it. Had 
Fred retraced his steps ? He surely would not do that ? 
He was with me just before I picked up the cap ; since 
that time I had heard nothing of him ; there could be 
only one reasonable solution to my perplexity. Fred 
had passed me, joined those who had gone ahead, and 
if I would overtake him I must follow him quickly. 
This I did. 

Once I fancied my name was spoken by some one. 
I ran in the direction of the voice and shouted : " Fred ! 
Fred !" but obtained no reply. There was no one to 
answer me. Not even the sound of footsteps now. I 
was alone. The deep silence which brooded over the 
earth seemed ominous of evil. Should I go on or wait ? 

I could travel this road alone, and perhaps remain 
undiscovered as long as the night lasted. But what 
would the daylight bring ? A night bird flapped his 
wings above my head and uttered a cry of warning. 
Fearful of further delay, I pressed forward. 

A mile was passed without a sound other than my 
own footsteps. What wonder was it that a deep-toned 



228 THE GUN-BEARER. 

voice, speaking out in the darkness, almost at my side, 
caused my heart to bound and set my pulses throbbing ? 

" Say thar !" said the voice. " What 's yer hurry ?" 

I stopped instantly. 

"Hello ! Have yer seen any 'f ther Sixteenth Ken- 
tucky ?" 

" No," I replied, in a scarcely audible voice, though 
with a feeling of relief that I had not met an enemy. 
"Belong to the Twelfth myself." 

" Glad ter know it, dogged 'f I ain't. Heerd yer 
comin' 'nd thought p'rhaps 't was one 'f our crowd, so I 
waited fer yer. Reckon 't ain't no use huntin' fer any 
more 'f ther stragglers, such a night 's this." 

" You 're right," I responded, glad to know I had met 
one of my own brigade. " I left my partner back there 
by the river an hour ago, and have been waiting and 
hunting for him ever since, thinking he would turn up." 

" P'rhaps he '11 turn up after awhile ; but I 'm thinkin' 
yer '11 see ther rebs first. They 're thicker 'n bees in 
swarmin' time 'tween us 'nd Franklin, 'nd 'f we don't 
keep tergether 'nd hurry along right sharp we '11 git 
snapped up, fer sure." 

" Come on, then. I 'm with you." 

" Thar 's whar yer right. Better a blamed sight look 
out fer yerself ; yer partner '11 turn up all right at 
Franklin." 

" If we ever get there," I interrupted. 

" Oh, we '11 git thar, 'f we only stick ter it long enough. 
Say, pard, what 's yer name ?" 

I told him. 

" And what 's yours ?" I asked. 

" Nicholas Searle. Ther boys call me Nick fer short. 
I say, Dan, we 'd better double-quick it fer a while 'nd 
see 'f we can't catch up with ther rest 'f ther boys. It 's 
gittin' a little skeery 'round these parts, 'nd we '11 stand 



THE GUN-BEARER. 229 

a heap better show er gittin' through 'f we 're all ter- 
gether." 

" Double-quick it is, then," I responded. 

After running and walking for half an hour or more, 
I saw, a short distance in front of us, a small point of 
light — now glowing, now disappearing, as a firefly light. 
I knew it could not be produced by an insect at this 
season of the year ; and, becoming puzzled to explain 
it to my own satisfaction, I took hold of Nick's arm and 
stopped him. 

" What 's ther matter ?" asked Nick. 

" A light," I said. " See it ?" 

" What ? Where ? I don't see no light." 

" Wait a moment, and you '11 see it ; it 's only a small 
speck of light, but it 's over there on the left." 

At brief intervals the light appeared and disap- 
peared. 

" See it ?" I asked. 

" Yes," replied Nick, after a moment of hesitation, 
"it 's some Johnnie smokin' ; 'nd yer kin bet yer shoes 
they 're mighty thick 'round here ter be so earless 's 
that. We might 's well jog along ; they 've heerd us 
'fore this. Come on. I '11 do ther talkin'." 

In a few moments we were hailed with : 

" Halt ! Whar yer gwine ?" 

" Lookin' fer ther boys," replied Nick. 

" What regiment d' yer b'long ter ?" 

" Georgy Tigers." 

" Which-a-way 'd yer come ?" 

" 'Long ther Pike Road, from Columby." 

" Seen any 'f ther Yanks ?" 

" No. Why ?" 

"Thought mebbe yer mought Ve seen some 'f 'em." 

"Who be you uns ?" asked Nick. 

"Twenty-ninth North Car'liny." 



230 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Whar 's Hood all ?" 

" Spring Hill, 'nd a right good jog ahead it is too." 

"Wall, here 's arter 'em," and Nick grasped me 
nervously by the arm, saying as he did so, " come on 
boys !" 

" Hold on thar ! How many d' yer count ?" 

" Lively Dan, lively my boy," whispered Nick, in- 
creasing his speed, " we 've got to leg it.ter git out er 
this, 't won't do ter let 'em scratch a match on us. 
Thought they was lettin' us off easy-like." 

" Halt thar ! D' yer hear ?" demanded the voice. 

" Quick, Dan," said Nick, " let 's leave ther road. 
We '11 do better on ther side 'nd won't make so much 
noise." 

We scarce had time to reach the roadside when a 
shot was fired after us. Another and yet another rifle 
flared out in the darkness, but the bullets, while we 
heard them whistle by, did us no harm. Our inquisitors 
were evidently too tired to pursue us, for they con- 
tented themselves with these three shots and we heard 
nothing more of them. 

We ran at full speed some distance and then slack- 
ened our pace to a rapid walk. It seemed to me I 
never was so tired, that the roads were never in a 
worse condition, and that we would never overtake our 
men. 



CHAPTER XXII. 



Several times we heard firing ahead, but this only 
stimulated us to greater exertion. We knew the im- 
portance of making the most of our time and reaching 
the main body of our detail while it was yet dark. At 
last we found them walking, rapidly and silently, on the 
right of the turpike. Nick was first to discover the 
progress we had made, and encouraged us with : 

" Here they are, Dan. Take it easy, now, my boy 
We 've got along so fur all right, thank God ! Hard 
work, aint it ?" 

" You 're right," I replied, when I had recovered from 
the last run sufficiently to speak. " I couldn't have 
gone any farther at that pace." 

" Wall, I 'd about gi'n out myself ; but it 's a heap 
better 'n 'twas back thar at Columby, 'nd we 're 'n a heap 
better condition ter whoop 'em up fer ther Johnnies, 'f 
they trouble us. Say, comrade," speaking to one of the 
party we had just overtaken, " what was that firin' 
fer, a while ago ?" 

" Skirmish, I reckon. Rebs is thick all around us, 
and they 're thick on the other side of the Pike." 

" Did yer have a hand in ther skirmish ?" 

" No, ' twas way ahead o' us." 

" Where are we ?" 

" Don' know ! Some on em says we ain't far from 

[231] 



232 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Spring Hill ; though what they knows about it, I 'm 
blamed 'f I know ! Some on 'em says, too, that ther 
rebs are camped ahead 'f us on ther other side 'f ther 
Pike 'nd that we '11 see their fires pretty quick !" 

"Shouldn't be s'prised 'f we did!" responded Nick. 
" 'Nd 'f we don't see more 'n fires we '11 be lucky ! It 's 
goin' ter be a close rub ! Mighty close ! That 's what 's 
ther matter !" 

Here we halted, and it was with difficulty I could re- 
sist the impulse to unroll my blanket and lie down to 
sleep. As it was I sat down, stretched my weary limbs 
and dozed until shaken into wakefulness by Nick, who 
informed me word had been passed along the line that, 
when started again, we must move together quickly 
and noiselessly. Every man was to be alert and ready 
for an attack at any moment. 

There had been some speculation as to our where- 
abouts and what our chances were of getting by the 
enemy without being seen and reaching Franklin in 
safety. Whatever the differences may have been as to 
minor details, all were agreed on one point, and that 
was, we were about half way between Columbia and 
Franklin, and if our presence and strength were dis- 
covered by the enemy we would be " gobbled." With 
this comforting assurance we resume our march. 

Ears are strained to catch the slightest sound of the 
enemy. Eyes ache as we attempt, in vain, to pierce 
the pitchy darkness which shuts us in. Hardly a word 
is spoken. Matches are not lighted by smokers. Each 
man feels that upon him rests the responsibility for the 
safety of every other man. 

We had not been on the road more than half an hour 
when it seemed to me I heard a sound behind us as if 
we were being pursued. Once I stopped an instant and 
listened, but heard nothing. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 233 

" What is it, Dan ?" asked Nick, noting the pause. 

" Thought I heard the rebs after us, double quick." 

" 'T wouldn't be no great s'prise 'f we did have a little 
scrimmage 'fore we git out er this. Rebs is all around 
us, 'nd — " hesitatingly — " there they are, sure 's you 're 
born." 

" Where ?" I asked, quickly, expecting to hear a volley 
of musketry before a reply could be made. 

" Jest over the hill yonder. See that light loomin' up 
thar, ter the left ?" 

I looked and plainly saw the hill outlined against the 
red glow beyond. 

" No doubt er them bein' rebs," said Nick ; " 'nd I 
reckon they 're not more 'n half a mile away." 

" Good thing for us they haven't tried to control the 
road." 

" Reckon they don't b'lieve there 's any need er 
lookin' arter ther road. Ther rebs 's tired 's we be, 'nd 
they 're not goin' ter bother their heads 'bout a few 
stragglers ; 'nd that 's all there is of us, 'nd they know 
it. Hark ! What was that ? Halt !" 

Nick turned quickly, bringing his gun to a ready. 
There was no mistake this time. We not only heard the 
tramp of feet ; we also heard the rattle and click of 
accouterments. 

" Halt, thar, I say !" repeated Nick, in a louder tone, 
as the party showed no disposition to stop. " 'F yer don't 
stand whar yer be, we '11 blow yer ter pieces. Who be 
yer ?" 

" Stragglers from th' Sixteenth and Twelfth Ken- 
tucky, from Columbia." 

" Come on, then. Dogged 'f yer ain't hed ter leg it. 
Seen any 'f ther rebs ?" 

" Only a few pieces of artillery that passed a couple 
of miles back." 



234 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Which way 'd they go ?" 

" Crossed the road and moved off to the left." 

" Didn't see nobody else, no pickets, nor nothin' ?" 

"No." 

" That 's all right then, they won't bother us." 

The newcomers proved to be three men from the 
Sixteenth Kentucky and four men from the Twelfth 
Kentucky, the latter belonging to Company C. They had 
all been left behind in the hurry of departure, but no 
one questioned them particularly, as a few moments 
later we came in full view of the camp fires of large 
bodies of troops. 

It was suggested that Schofield was in bivouac there, 
but there was no one who cared to investigate. The 
camp was almost parallel with the turnpike for a long 
distance, and we hurried by like phantoms. 
. Once we saw a body of horsemen passing between 
us and the light, but they were going in an opposite 
direction and quickly disappeared from view. Before 
losing sight of the bivouac of our foes, we dimly saw 
between it and us a force of some sort. Nearer to the 
road, we pass a few of our men silently standing beside 
a barricade of rails, evidently watching for some move- 
ment in opposition to our own. 

The darkness deepens and again becomes blackness ; 
only the red gleams from a few of the distant fires 
break it here and there in swaying rifts. Not a word 
is spoken, while we are passing this point, though many 
an anxious eye is turned in the direction of the rebel 
camp. 

All doubts as to whether we would get beyond reach 
of the enemy without being discovered were settled a 
few moments later by sharp firing in our rear. We 
were soon overtaken by the party we had seen stand- 
ing at the barricade of rails. From this squad we learn 



THE GUN-BEARER. 235 

that they had been fired upon by the enemy's skirmish 
line. 

" They '11 chase us up, see 'f they don't," said Nick, 
upon learning the fire had been returned. 

" So long as they don't know how many there are of 
us, we are just as good as a whole division would be," 
said I. 

" Yer right, Dan ; and it will make ther Johnnies er 
little careful, arter we once get a crack at 'em. 'F we 
only had er few big guns, 'twould be all ther better." 

A few minutes later and another volley was heard 
from the same direction. 

" They won't get an answer this time ; ther coon ain't 
thar," said Nick. 

" No, but as you said, just now, they'll follow us up." 

Weary and worn we pressed onward, now with sway- 
ing step and half closed eyes, now breaking into a 
double quick, now slowing down to a rapid walk, 
every step bringing us nearer to Franklin, every man 
carrying his gun ready for instant action. A short 
interval passed, and then, within easy range, from our 
left came a light volley of musketry, which did us no 
harm. 

Halting for a moment, we vigorously returned the 
fire and then resumed our march. It soon became 
apparent, from the method of attack, that the enemy 
were not present in large numbers. Possibly it was 
only a skirmish line or, perhaps, a small body of cav- 
alry. Whatever it was, the force continued to harass 
us at intervals. 

Just before the day dawned, we saw the glowing 
embers of a baggage-wagon that had been destroyed. 
We gave this spot a wide berth. A little later and our 
eyes penetrated farther into the darkness with which 
we had been surrounded. A faint glow appeared in 



236 THE GUN-BEARER. 

the east. Daylight came. The darkness broke and 
dissolved. The mists rose from the earth like ragged 
curtains. 

In the morning light I saw the anxious, careworn faces 
of the men around me — soldiers bound together by the 
feeling of sympathy and comradeship, the natural 
accompaniment of a common danger and duty. 

Close beside me was Nick — tall, awkward, gaunt, with 
a kindly, honest face and big gray eyes, which I found 
were curiously turned toward me. 

As the sun rose we reached the friendly shelter of 
woods. Here we hurried along at a rapid pace. Our 
safety now depended on our speed. Tired, hungry and 
exhausted as we were, there was no time for halting, 
and, if there had been, breakfast was impossible, for 
there was nothing to eat. 

Fifteen or twenty miles are nothing for strong, well- 
fed soldiers, breaking camp in the freshness of the early 
morning, but we were in no condition for it. We had 
not slept for two nights, and our haversacks were 
empty. 

Many a time I was tempted to drop out of line and 
rest. What odds if I were taken prisoner and carried 
to Andersonville ? I might as well die there as any- 
where. 

Hour after hour slipped away. Mile after mile we 
covered in this toilsome march, stimulated only to still 
greater effort by occasional shots from the enemy. At 
last the breastworks thrown up by Schofield's force on 
the crest of the hill between us and Franklin came into 
view. 

A half-hour later we passed through the opening in 
the works at the turnpike, where we were welcomed as 
from the dead. The greeting was a cordial one, but it 
was interrupted by Nick, who quietly said : 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



237 



" Dan, thar 's our cook in the rear 'f that old cotton- 
gin yonder. Come, my boy, 'nd we '11 feed." 

A glance to the right refreshed my eyes with 
the sight of blazing wood and- steaming kettles. 
Thither we went and, through Nick's cleverness, suc- 
ceeded in obtaining a bit of bacon, a pot of hot, black 
coffee and sugar with which to sweeten it. It was a 
feast for a hungry man ; such a meal as I had not en- 
joyed in a long time, and it was quickly devoured. 

While eating, I asked the cook if he had seen any of 
the Twelfth Kentucky, and was informed that a lot of 
our men had passed only a short time before and that 
they were now asleep in a little hollow only a few steps 
away in the rear and on the right of the road. 

After I had finished eating, I left Nick at the fire and 
started in search of the boys, finding them where the 
cook had directed me. Captain Hartees was there and, 
only a few feet away, Fred, Jake and Taylor, all with 
their accouterments on, sleeping just as they had thrown 
themselves, on reaching the spot where they lay. I was 
soon beside them and, without my blanket under my 
head for a pillow, speedily became oblivious to all sur- 
roundings. 




CHAPTER XXIII. 

Franklin, Tennessee, the county seat of Williamson, 
is on the south bank of the Little Harpeth. This 
stream winds nearly around the town, holding it as it 
were in the lap of a crescent. 

Within the arms of this crescent, that is, across from 
one point to the other, is a ridge, known as Carter's 
Hill, the crest of which commands a fine view of the 
surrounding country. From this ridge, toward the 
north, the ground gradually slopes to the river bank, 
where the town is located. Franklin, therefore, is 
bounded by the river on the north, east and west and 
by the ridge on the south. 

To the south of this ridge is also a gradual slope 
which for little less than a mile on the right and 
directly in front was clear of timber. This elevated 
ground was occupied by our troops and, as I stood by 
the cook's fire and drank my coffee, a few hours before, 
I saw that the line selected for defense, and along which 
our men were rapidly throwing up earth works, was a 
curve extending from river to river. 

The center of this intrenchment, part of which de-. 
scribed an angle, was at the Columbia Turnpike, where 
a space, the whole width of the road, was left open, 
and through which the artillery and baggage wagons 
had passed on their way to Nashville. 
[238] 



Tl E GUN-BEARER. 239 

After sleeping two or three hours, I was suddenly 
awakened. Expecting to find that some of my com- 
rades had disturbed me, I raised my head ; but a glance 
satisfied me they were still sleeping, and there was no 
one else near. Closing my eyes, I again tried to sleep, 
but the subtle influence had fled, and, in spite of my 
tired, worn-out condition, would not return. At last I 
arose, buckled on my accouterments and, with rifle in 
hand, walked toward the works. 

Here I found most of our forces in position and 
awaiting the appearance of the enemy. On the left of 
the road I noticed a part of our brigade. A little way 
in the rear were parked the ammunition wagons. 
Crossing the road, a short distance away, a retrench- 
ment commanded the opening in the works and its 
approach. A few rods south of the cotton gin, a battery 
of six field pieces had been stationed. West of this, 
and on the other side of the Pike, were Opdycke's men 
in reserve. 

Just outside the works, beyond the angle, a detail of 
men were hurriedly constructing a thorny abatis of 
osage orange. East of this, Henderson's men held the 
line to the Lewisburg Pike ; then Casement's Second 
Brigade to the river. 

Passing through the opening, I stood for a few 
moments gazing at the landscape before me. The 
afternoon was surpassingly lovely, and an Indian-sum- 
mer haze, which pervaded the warm atmosphere, had 
settled on the distant hills. Nature was peacefully 
sinking into her winter sleep, undisturbed by any noise 
save the caw of a crow which lazily winged its way 
toward the leafless trees on the other side of the river. 

" Caw ! Caw ! Caw !" 

Like a hungry ghoul, impatient for a feast of human 
flesh, this " thing of evil " turned suddenly and sailed 



240 THE GUN-BEARER. 

in a circle above us. There was something almost 
prophetic in the action. Death was at hand. In less 
than an hour, perhaps, the air would be thick with 
hissing bullets and the earth in front of me made red 
with blood. 

"Caw! Caw! Caw!" 

Pitiless and mocking came the hoarse response to my 
thought. Was it a warning ? The query thrilled me, and 
I saw others shiver as we watched this uneasy spirit 
winging higher and still higher. Was it possible that 
from his dizzy height he saw the moment of battle 
drawing near ? 

" Caw ! Caw ! Caw !" came the answer. 

" What a place for a stand !" thought I. " If Hood 
will only dare attack us here !" 

In front of me was an unobstructed slope of open 
fields, skirted at the base by a belt of woods. Beyond, 
and nestling among the hills, a few farm houses were 
to be seen. 

Less than half a mile in front of our center and 
stretching across the Turnpike were stationed two 
brigades of Wagner's Division. 

Why they were there I could not understand, but 
supposed it must be for some good purpose. I noticed 
every one in that line was alert and evidently scanning 
the woods at the foot of the slope. 

In the intrenchments, too, men were anxiously watch- 
ing. Now that their work was nearly finished, they 
gathered in groups to discuss the probability of an at- 
tack. The solitary worker, with pick or shovel here, 
and there, stopped occasionally between the motions of 
his occupation and viewed the scene. 

" Will Hood attack us here or will he march around 
us and once more get in our rear ?" was the question of 
the moment. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 241 

We had not long to wait for an answer to this query, 
for, presently, a skirmish line, emerging from the woods, 
gave signal that the enemy were approaching. 

An awful stillness fell upon the scene ; a quiet I had 
experienced, and which every one who has been in 
battle knows better than can be described. The pulse- 
beat of the line quickened. Men dropped pick and 
spade and grasped their rifles. Gunners stood by their 
guns, silently awaiting the solid ranks which everybody 
knew were but a little distance behind the skirmishers. 
I scanned the faces of the veterans near me, and saw 
pictured there confidence and determination to settle 
their account with Hood. 

Suddenly, from a dozen throats, there arose the cry : 

" There they come !" 

Almost at the same instant, from out of the woods 
near the river, on our left, and stretching to a consider- 
able distance beyond the Columbia Turnpike, I saw the 
dark gray lines and glittering bayonets of the Con- 
federate army. In heavily massed column they ad- 
vanced, as gayly, it seemed to me, as if they were 
entering a parade-ground instead of a battle-field. 
Marching toward us for a short distance, they wheeled 
into line, halted, and were at once ready for the order, 
" Forward !" 

Two detachments of artillery thundered out of the 
woods, galloped forward, unlimbered, and established 
themselves in positions, covering different roads. There 
was no counter-marching, no shifting of pieces. The 
formation was made with accuracy and dispatch. 

Leaving my post of observation in front, I turned, 
went inside the works and joined a group from my 
brigade, who were also watching the scene. 

When the enemy began to move they manifested 
even more deliberation than at first ; the lines, which 



242 THE GUN-BEARER. 

appeared to be six or seven regiments deep, in the 
center, assumed better shape and advanced with a pre- 
cision and military bearing seldom seen on a holiday 
parade. It was one of the most impressive sights I 
ever witnessed and occasioned much favorable com- 
ment from the veterans near me. 

Later, as the enemy increased their speed to a double- 
quick, one of the group in front of me said : 

"That's what I call a handsome line of battle." 

"You 're right, it is!" said another. "And they 
mean business, too !" 

" The best thing Wagner can do," said a third, " is to 
git out er that place, and do it quick, too ! He 'd better 
git in here out er the way." 

" He 's no good where he is," rejoined the first speaker, 
" and we can't use a piece of artillery or fire a musket 
while they stand between us and the enemy." 

" There 's a terrible mistake somewhere !" added still 
another speaker. 

It was true, we could not fire without injury to our 
men. It was also true and painfully apparent that 
some one had seriously blundered in placing that line. 
Yet there it stood, two brigades of dazed, undisciplined 
men, opposed to nearly forty thousand of the flower of 
the Confederate Army. 

When the enemy approached within a short distance, 
these bridgades opened a rattling fire ; but the enemy, 
without pause or, so far as we could see, the loss of a 
man, hurried on, firing as they came, their line extend- 
ing half a mile beyond either flank of the panic-stricken . 
brigades, who now broke and fled — a confused, dis- 
organized crowd, flying in terror and streaming directly 
up the Turnpike, toward our center, as fast as their 
legs coiil d carry them. 

" There 's a foot-race for yer !" exclaimed the familiar 



THE GUN-BEARER. 243 

voice of Jake Bence. " But it 's just what we might 
expect. Somehow we never get half a chance at the 
Johnnies, but somebody up and spoils it all. What 
business 'd that line out there, any way ? The idea ! 
Hanging on till the last minute, 'nd what right had they 
to fire, any how ? Our line 's got to break now to let 
'em in. The rebs are close onto 'em, 'nd if they don't 
look out they '11 all come in together. There 's rebs 
enough to eat us, if they ever get a chance. Come, 
Dan, we 'd better go and wake up the boys." 

Together we hurried to our company in the rear of 
the cotton-gin, roused man after man and set these to 
work waking others. I ran to Captain Hartees, who 
was lying with his head resting on his overcoat, and 
attempted to shake him into wakefulness. He did not 
respond. 

"Captain!" I shouted. "Wake up! The rebs are 
coming !" 

By this time the noise of artillery and musketry on 
our left gave evidence that the battle had commenced ; 
and, as I stooped and again took the sleeping officer by 
the shoulder, I could hear the loud, ringing yells of the 
enemy added to the roar of the oncoming storm. 

"Captain!" I cried again. "Captain! Wake up! 
The rebs are here ! The 've attacked us — are coming 
close to the works ! Come, come, get up, or it will be 
too late !" Saying which, I took hold of the shoulders 
of the sleeper and raised him almost to his feet before 
he awoke. 

When the captain finally became conscious that he 
was wanted the fleetest runners of the retreating bri- 
gades had reached the ditch in front of the works, 
jumped into it, and were coming up on the other side 
and through our lines, which had opened to receive 
them. 



244 THE GUN-BEARER. 

From one end of our line of defense to the other, 
excepting that portion covering the turnpike, a flame 
of fire flashed a moment, fitfully, and the white smoke 
of the burned powder hung like a curtain for an instant 
between us and the enemy, only to drift away and 
reveal the long lines of graycoats rapidly advancing 
and pouring into our ranks a fire no less rapid. In 
front I saw a wide area, literally crammed with Con- 
federates ; their lines, being thicker at this point than 
at any other, were mixed with our own men, all run- 
ning together. 

The enemy fully appreciated the situation, knew they 
were completely covered by our men, and that so long 
as this condition of things continued, we could not fire. 
They also understood that our line would open to let 
in this hapless crowd, and that that break in our center 
would be their opportunity. 

Toward this point they were running, careless, con- 
fident, their muskets at a charge, and their faces beam- 
ing with satisfaction, as if they were anticipating a 
grand rout to come and were even then enjoying it. 
Nearer and nearer, like a drove of brown sheep, crowd- 
ing by and trying to run over each other, in their 
eagerness to be first through our center, they jump 
into the ditch with our men, and with them enter our 
lines. 

In their rear, a perfect sea of heads and glistening 
steel, is moving forward with the same desperate 
eagerness, forcing those who are in front continually 
forward, whether they will or not. 

The charge of the enemy was so impetuous, and the 
bewilderment of the men, who should have held this 
important point, so great, that our line, like a huge 
gate opening inward, yielded. The enemy saw it, and 



THE GUN-BEARER. 245 

with a deafening yell, rushed for the gap, which imme- 
diately becomes wider as the One hundredth and a 
part of the One hundred and Fourth Ohio left their 
post of duty and ran. 

Panic stricken, men and officers fled in dismay ; the 
wildest confusion prevailed. Every one seemed bent on 
getting to the rear at the earliest moment. It looked 
as if no human power could check this disastrous 
stampede. A moment longer and our whole line, al- 
ready in great peril, would have been hopelessly broken 
and Hood victorious ; but just as the color-bearer of 
the One hundredth Ohio came running by us, Captain 
Hartees snatched the flag and, waving it aloft an in- 
stant, shouted in a tone heard above the tumult : 

" Break for the works !" 

With a loud cheer company after company of the 
Twelfth Kentucky follow the man whose bravery had 
stimulated them so many times in emergencies. 
Colonel White, with voice and gesture, urged on the 
Sixteenth Kentucky and the Eighth Tennessee, and 
rallied the flying Ohio regiments. All together we 
struggle for the abandoned positions, while Wagner's 
men, with the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Ohio 
and Opdyke's Brigade, filled with the enthusiasm of 
their leader, also hurry to our support. 

I had never before, in conflict, been so close to the 
enemy ; never before had been able to look in men's 
faces and note their expression. The countenances of 
these men were not unpleasant to look upon. There 
was nothing to excite fear — nothing brutal — about them ; 
rather an expression of indifference, as I look back at 
them now, like men who might, perhaps, have been dis- 
possessed of their sensibilities, and were merely execut- 
ing an order, without the faintest thought or care of 



246 THE GUN-BEARER. 

consequences. There were many gray, weather-beaten 
faces, telling tales of hardship, of privation and of suf- 
fering. 

As the main body of the two lines met, I heard, from 
the opposite side : 

" We 've got 'em on the run, boys. The works are 
ours ! Hold all you get !" 

In response came the cheering voice of Hartees : 

"Forward, men ! Drive 'em back ! Clean 'em out !" 

I saw Jake, at this instant, jump quickly forward, 
knock down a Confederate color-bearer, wrench away 
the flag he carried, throw it on the ground, trample it 
under foot and leave it there. 

Immediately a desperate hand-to-hand fight, with 
bayonets and clubbed muskets, ensued, and the stand- 
ards of both armies waved within the line of works. 

I found myself defending blows that a burly fellow 
was aiming at my head. The features of his dust- 
blackened and heated face were quivering with fero- 
cious joy. His sharp white teeth were laid bare in a 
wolfish grin, and I saw blazing, in his small gray eyes, 
a determination to kill me or any one else who opposed 
him. 

He had clubbed his gun and was striking at me with 
all the strength he could command. My rifle was 
loaded, but so rapidly did this man handle his weapon 
that I could do nothing but ward off his blows. 

Once, twice, thrice he brought down the butt of his 
musket, aiming to strike my head ; but each time I 
successfully fenced it off. Again and again, faster and 
faster, he followed blow on blow. I seemed to have 
been left alone to take care of this man. My comrades 
were by my side; so near that I could feel the move- 
ments of their bodies against my own, yet each man 



THE GUN-BEARER. 247 

was defending, with his life, the ground he stood 
upon, as I was. Each was held equally close to his 
perilous duty by the dogged determination of his 
antagonist. I could help no one, others could not help 
me. 

The man confronting me was larger and stronger 
than I, and I felt that I could not stand before him 
very long. My defense weakened rapidly, but there set 
in now a backward movement of the enemy — the line 
in front of me becoming, if possible, more dense than 
ever. As his comrades crowded against my antagonist 
he wavered, failed to recover from the last blow quick 
enough to deliver another. My rifle was at his breast 
in an instant. I fired. A flash, a burning flame ; then, 
with a look of disappoitment on his face, intensified as 
he clutched his rifle with firmer grip, he fell at my 
feet. 

At this moment I discovered beside me Nick Searle, 
who, with others of the Sixteenth Kentucky, in their 
eagerness to meet the enemy, had separated from their 
comrades in that first rush for the works and were now 
fighting with us, side by side. 

Nick was striving desperately to free his gun from 
the control of an assailant who had locked bayonets 
with him. 

They were well matched in strength, Nick having 
advantage only by being the more active and fresher 
of the two. There could be no doubt as to the result 
of this individual encounter, I thought, glancing for 
an instant at the combatants. 

But another of the enemy jumped to the relief of 
his comrade and, with the butt of his musket raised in 
the air, was about to decide the content against my 
friend. 



248 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Quickly thrusting forward my rifle, I warded off the 
blow which descended with crushing force on the 
arm of Nick's foe, causing him to lose hold of his 
musket and leaving Nick free to act in his own de- 
fense. 

There was no method of action in that encounter ; 
all we thought of or cared for or strove to accomplish, 
was to check, if possible, the progress of the enemy. 
Men discharged their muskets in the faces of other 
men ; they ran each other through the body with 
bayonets ; they clubbed their guns and brought them 
down upon the head of the enemy who stood nearest. 
Others used the butts of their guns, as one might use a 
battering-ram, and struck their opponents in the 
face. 

Rifle struck rifle, bayonet locked with bayonet, and 
men panted as they wildly struggled with each other 
for possession of this central point in the line of our 
defense. Back, step by step, the enemy are forced 
into the ditch. They fought like madmen to hold 
all they had gained ; but, in spite of their undaunted 
courage, the gap through which they had expected 
to pass " on the run " closed and was now well de- 
fended. 

Among the many prisoners taken and hurried to the 
rear, I saw the Confederate general, Gordon, in charge 
of Captain Hartees. 

It was while leading his division in this charge that 
the Confederate general, Cleburn was shot, not more 
than thirty paces in front of us. The horse from 
which he fell advanced to the top of our works, where 
he was shot and dropped with his feet hanging over the 
headlogs. 

Our line was once more unbroken, and we were 



THE GUN-BEARER. 249 

thinking - that the worst was over, when the cry was 
sounded : 

" There they come again !" 

Another line of battle, stronger than the first, had 
advanced at a double quick, under cover of the smoke, 
and were now upon us. 

On they come, shoulder touching shoulder, loading 
and firing as they advanced. But their assault was 
met with the firmness of a rock, and the living wave 
was dashed back. Bruised, torn and bleeding, they 
staggered and fell in heaps under our fire, which 
was now crossed at a left oblique by the fire from 
a part of our brigade, on the other side of the 
Pike. 

The discharge of small arms was so incessant that 
dense masses of smoke settled upon us, partly obscuring 
the field, and veiled the movements of the assaulting 
lines, excepting when the sulphurous vapor was lifted 
into rifts. Then we saw battle-flags waving, lines 
charging and men reeling and falling to earth. Great 
swaths of human beings fell, as grass falls before a 
scythe ; but the horrible gaps closed again, and tramp- 
ing, slipping, stumbling over the fallen bodies of their 
dead and wounded comrades, with the powder flame 
from our guns almost burning their faces, they 
pressed toward the death which they knew awaited 
them. 

Again and again the assault was made, with similar 
results ; and the piles of dead and wounded attested 
the heroic determination of the enemy to carry our 
works at any cost. 

One Confederate color-bearer reached the crest of our 
works with his flag, stood with it above his head an 
instant ; then, burying its pointed staff deep in the 



J50 THE GUN-BEARER. 

1 oose earth, and amid a storm of bullets, leaving his 
colors flying in our faces, he jumped back among his 
comrades, laughing and unharmed. 

Hardly had he disappeared when, with a prolonged 
yell, the enemy attacked us with such fury that it seemed 
as if not only Hood's but Lee's army, also, was behind 
those gallant fellows, forcing them on. But they need 
no spur. Their standard was planted upon our works 
and beckoned to them. Volley upon volley we direct 
at the staff of this banner, but it continued to wave, 
defiantly, mockingly. 

Captain Hartees forces his way toward this point, 
shouting at the same time : 

" Cut down that flag ! Down with it !" 

" Cut it down ! Cut it down !" echoed a score of 
voices. 

A heavy fire was centered upon it, tearing the banner 
into shreds. The staff splintered, bit by bit. Oh, so 
slowly ! It bent, it broke, and the emblem of treason 
at last dropped to the earth. 

Faster the rear ranks loaded, faster the front ranks 
fired, until at times our whole front was one continuous 
line of blazing musketry. The enemy in our immedi- 
ate front could endure it no longer, and during a brief 
lull cry out : 

" For God's sake, stop firing ! Let us come in ! We 
surrender !" 

" Stay where you are !" thunders back a voice. "Lie 
down ! Keep out of the way !" 

We could not let them in. Other lines were still 
advancing upon us, and we had no time to spare in 
taking prisoners. Worst of all, our ammunition was 
giving out. 

Captain Hartees discovered this fact and ordered me 



THE GUN-BEARER. 251 

to carry the information to General Reilly, and tell 
him we must have more ammunition, and at 
once. 

I left my place in line, went to the rear, found the 
general, and delivered the message. 

" Tell him," said our brigade commander, " he shall 
have it, and all he wants at once," upon which he 
turned and rode away. 

It appeared to me as I stood alone for a moment, 
trying to take in the scene, that the bullets were flying 
thicker there, than at the front. Shot and shell were 
whistling through the air from all directions ; while 
along the whole line of our defense, enveloped in thick 
smoke, which was dispersed above in a thin canopy of 
bluish vapor, I heard the hoarse shout of contending 
armies, and the angry report of musketry as it flashed 
and tore along from right and left to center and back 
again, lighting up the smoke clouds as the light- 
ning's flash illumines the dark cloud on a summer's 
night. 

Wounded men everywhere ; some, leaning on their 
guns for support, were limping away ; some, crawling 
to a place of safety ; others, too weak to move further, 
were dying where loss of blood had compelled them to 
stop. 

A wounded, riderless horse, frantic with pain, and 
wild with the furious tumult, bounded over the 
field, seeking to fly from the peril which surrounded 
us. 

I wonder now that I ever had the courage to return 
to my post ; but the idea that my life was in danger 
never occurred to me. The scene I witnessed from the 
rear impressed me, but it inspired no feeling of fear ; 
I had delivered my message, and satisfied myself that 



252 THE GUN-BEARER. 

things were yet well with us, and returned to my 
duty. 

My nerves were strung to the highest tension, and I 
was conscious that my excitement was intense, but the 
controlling influence, that which moved me quickly 
forward, was the fear that some of my comrades 
should miss me, and not understand why I had left 
them. 

Once more in line, I glanced backward toward the 
ammunition-wagons, and there saw a man take a box 
of ammunition on his shoulder and start toward us on 
the run. He had covered nearly half the distance when 
he fell, pierced with the enemy's bullets. Another 
man picked up the box, but carried it only a few yards 
when he, too, fell. At that moment some one from 
brigade headquarters, who had seen the second man 
fall, ran to the box, now wet with blood, picked it up 
and brought it in. 

In a moment the cover was off and the contents of 
the box were distributed. Just then came another lull 
in the firing when the enemy, who had given up the 
fight, and had since been lying close under the hedge 
and in the ditch, jumped up, shouting : 

" Let us come in now ! We surrender !" 

" Come in ! Come in !" we shouted, without waiting 
for orders. 

Instantly our works were swarming with the enemy, 
who threw down both colors, arms and ammunition, 
and hurried to the rear. 

Two or three of our boys picked up a few of these" 
battle flags, of which there was a large number, when 
a shout from some one stopped them. 

" Leave these flags for the sutlers !" said the voice. 
" Look out for the flags in front !" 



THE GUN-BEARER. 253 

Only a brief pause in the roar of battle, just long 
enough to pass around the ammunition we had re- 
ceived and get our prisoners out of the way, when 
again " the rebel yell," from another of the successive 
lines of assailants, gave warning of a renewal of the 
contest. 

Like men who were breasting a storm of hail, pulling 
their hats down over their eyes and inclining their heads 
forward to meet the leaden rain, they rush toward the red 
tongues of death that, simultaneously with the order, 
" Fire !" leaped forth to scorch and wither dozens and 
scores and hundreds. 

I wonder how men dare rush in the face of death so 
calmly, so deliberately. 

I fixed my eyes on a tall, sinewy fellow, with brown 
beard, a slouched hat, with the rim turned down and a 
ragged suit of brown and gray. His hands held his 
rifle firmly as he ran over the dead and wounded bodies 
of those who have gone before him. He looked not to 
see where he stepped ; now upon the chest of some 
wounded comrade ; now upon the neck or in the face 
of some one nearly dead, who writhed in agony at the 
fresh torture inflicted. 

On, on he came. Bullets flew faster and yet faster 
around him ; his companions fell on either side of him ; 
he heeded them not. He stumbled at last, gathered 
himself, ran a few paces, stumbled again, staggered, 
dropped his gun and fell. Those behind were now 
running over his body as he ran over others but an 
instant before. 

Meanwhile, the sun had set. It was becoming dark, 
but I could yet see across the Turnpike, where the 
battle was raging still no less fiercely than with us. 
There, also, the enemy are trying to storm the works. 



254 THE GUN-BEARER. 

But our line stood firm as the cliffs of the sea. An 
officer, leading the charge, rode to the ditch, leaped it 
and mounted the works, where the horse fell, riddled 
with bullets, and the rider tumbled headlong to the 
earth. 

A howl of rage rose from the infuriated host which 
now sprang forward for revenge. The entire line was 
stimulated to desperation. Nearer and nearer they 
come. Another battle flag rose above the works within 
a feet few feet of me. The experience with that other 
flag was enough for one day, and I resolved that this 
banner should not wave over us if I could help it. 

Impulsively I dropped my rifle, jumped toward the 
flag, seized it by the staff with both hands and exerted 
all my energy to wrench it from the hands of the man 
who carried it. A desperate struggle for the posses- 
sion of the flag ensued. First victory seemed to be 
on one side, then on the other. But neither would 
yield. 

Backward and forward, now brought nearly to my 
knees, now in danger of being thrown to the earth by 
the almost superhuman strength of my antagonist, we 
struggled for a moment on the works, the flag, just 
above our heads, swaying in all directions with the 
movements of our bodies, the thick smoke of the 
atmosphere around us, almost suffocating in its density, 
vibrating with the sounds of exploding rifles, clash- 
ing bayonets and the whistle and zip of swiftly flying 
bullets. 

Suddenly I felt a burning sensation, as if a red hot 
iron had been laid on my head, and my eyes were 
quickly blinded with hot blood running over my face. 
Conscious that whatever I did must be done quickly, I 
summoned all the power that in me lay for a final 




"I SEIZED THE FLAG WITH BOTH HANDS."— See Page 254. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



255 



effort. The staff yielded, and, amid wild shouts of tri- 
umph, though from which side I could not tell, I fall 
backward. Some one caught me as I fell, and hurried 
me to the rear. 

I grew dizzy. My strength was fast leaving me, and 
it was with difficulty I kept my feet as we ran. The 
noise of battle increased. There was a roaring sound 
in my ears ; a sharp, stinging pain in my right arm ; a 
bursting sensation ; then — blankness. 





CHAPTER XXIV. 

It was night when I returned to consciousness, and I 
found myself in bed, gazing at a small circle of light on 
the ceiling overhead. Directly beneath was a heavily- 
shaded lamp, which cast a luminous disk upon a table. 
Other parts of the room were in somber gloom. 

In a low chair near the table, partly in light and 
partly in shadow, sat a woman reading. I could not see 
the woman's face nor tell if she was black or white. 

An air of wholesome comfort and peace and quiet 
pervaded the place, and I wondered where it was ; why 
I was lying in bed with my head so tightly bandaged ; 
why my arms and limbs were so numb and void of 
feeling. 

For some time my brain refused to act and I lay 
dazed, bewildered, utterly unable to recall the past. 
By degrees, however, it slowly came to me, and the 
picture of a powder-blackened face and a man carrying 
a bullet-rent battle flag presented itself. Then the con- 
flict in which I was wounded flashed before me. 

But this house. Why was I here ? This was not a. 
hospital. It must be far removed from the results of 
yesterday's battle ; for, so far as I could see, there were 
no other wounded men near me. 
[256] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 257 

I tried in various ways to account for my surround- 
ings, but reached no satisfactory conclusion. Then my 
mind reverted to the battle ; whether or not we were 
victorious ; if I succeeded in taking that flag. I had 
hold of the staff and there was a confused recollection 
that I did not let go of it. Then came that terrible, 
burning pain in my head. 

" Ah, if that had not come so soon, had only kept 
away a moment longer, the flag would have been mine, 
and I should have remembered all about it. Perhaps 
this woman can tell me something about it." 

I tried to attract her attention and failed. She did 
not hear me ; at least she did not move. My voice 
was weak and strange. I hardly recognized it. But I 
tried again ; this time with what I considered a greater 
effort. 

" Who got the flag ?" I asked. 

Still no response. 

My voice was thick and hoarse, but she surely must 
have heard me. Why don't the woman answer me ? 

I lay and looked and waited and wondered what it 
all meant ; where Fred was, and if it was he who 
helped me to the rear when I was wounded. 

Now I think of it, I don't remember seeing him 
during the fight ; but neither do I remember seeing 
any dne else, except Bence and Hartees and Nick too, 
after the fight commenced. I wonder if they got out 
of the battle all right. Fred was with me when 
Hartees shouted for us to follow him, and we both 
started for the works together. 

Hartees what became of him ? He was a brave 
man, none braver ; always at the front ; never shirking. 
He and I were the only two in the regiment who were 
not Kentuckians. Where did he come from ? Nobody 



258 THE GUN-BEARER. 

ever seemed to know. Of course I had seen him at 
the Way town Arms 'on the night we received the 
news that Fort Sumter had been fired upon, but he was 
a stranger, even there, as will be remembered. 

Musing thus, I wearily watched the leaves of the 
book as the reader turned them one by one. I wished 
she would stop reading and look at me that I might 
attract her attention. But I was in darkness, and even 
if I should beckon she could not see me. While trying 
to arrange some plan by which I might call her, I fell 
asleep. 

When I again awoke the sun was shining into the 
room, through partially closed shutters, and I saw a 
young woman sitting by an open window looking at 
me. 

The face of this woman was familiar to me. I had 
seen it before. It is wonderfully like Mary's face. But 
how can that be possible. How came she here ? 
Pshaw ! I must be dreaming. And yet, I ought to 
know that face. 

Resolved to prove at once if it were she, or at least 
attract attention before she turned her eyes from me, I 
said : 

" Mary !'* 

" What !" rising suddenly. " Do you really know me, 
Dan ?" 

"Yes, Mary, why shouldn't I know you ?" 

"Thank God!" she fervently exclaimed, tears stream- 
ing down her face as she came rapidly to my bedside, 
bent over and kissed me. 

Surely this is no dream, thought I, closing my eyes, 
and yet I cannot understand the reality of my situation. 
Yesterday in battle, in middle Tennessee; to-day at 
home in Northern Kentucky. 



THE GUN-BEARER. 259 

Distance is not so easily overcome as that, and if it 
were, how was it managed that I had been so speedily- 
taken care of while others, in a worse condition, are 
left to suffer on that terrible battlefield ? 

I hardly dare speak lest the spell should break and I 
find, after all, it was only a dream. What if it should be 
so ? I shuddered at the thought and opened my eyes 
A look from Mary inspired me with the confidence to 
speak. 

" Mary," said I, hesitatingly, " Mary, tell me, is this a 
dream ?" 

" Oh, Dan, it is all real ; but you must not dare 
talk. You are so weak. Let me — " 

Here she turned to leave the room. 

" Mary !" I cried, with all the strength at my com- 
mand, determined not to let her pass out of sight ; 
" Mary, don't leave me ! Don't !" 

" I won't, Dan, I won't. But your mother — " 

Just then the door opened softly, and my mother 
entered the room. I looked into the dear, tired face, 
whose lips were quivering with suppressed emotion as 
she came toward me, and whatever else I tried to say, 
my voice failed to utter but the one word : 

" Mother !" 

" My dear child," she said, kneeling by my bed 
and putting her face lovingly against mine, " God is 
indeed good to give me back my boy. He will let you 
live now and get strong again." 

" Yes, mother, I shall soon be well." 

" It will take time, my son. But you are at home 
now, and in good hands. Please God, we will bring you 
out of this all right. But you will have to be per- 
fectly quiet for some time yet. A dangerous operation 
has been performed on your head. The result, so far, 



260 THE GUN-BEARER. 

is successful. But the least excitement may undo all 
that the doctors have done. So you will be patient, 
my boy, and wait until you are stronger, before we can 
talk to you or you can ask questions. Don't think of 
the past. Sleep. Rest. Watch me or Mary, and 
remember mother is with you." 

"I'll try and obey orders," I answered, trying to 
smile. 

" That 's right, my son. You shall know all we can 
tell you in good time. Mary or I will be with you 
night and day. You shall not want for anything, so 
don't worry. The doctors will be here to-night. Until 
then you must not talk any more. Let me fix your 
pillow a little. There ! You feel easier now, don't 
you ?" 

" Yes, mother." 

" Sleep now, if you can. The more you sleep the 
faster you will gain strength." 

With this comforting thought my mother kissed me 
and quietly left the room. I watched her until the 
door closed, assured myself that Mary was still with 
me, then shut my eyes and slept. 

When I awoke the doctors — three of them — were 
present. They felt my pulse, ascertained the tempera- 
ture of my body, examined the bandages on my head, 
asked me if I knew where I was, what regiment I 
belonged to, and a number of questions which, at the 
time, seemed quite silly to me. They were all answered 
promptly, however, and without confusion. 

" Most encouraging," said a gray-haired doctor, one of 
the trio, when the other two had finished with their 
catechising. " Young man," he said, addressing me, 
" you may thank God that you have remarkable recu- 
perative powers." 



- THE GUN-BEARER. 261 

During the conference which followed there was 
some talk of leaving opiates for me to take, but the 
gray-haired doctor objected, saying : 

" The young man needs neither opiates nor tonics. 
We have only to look after these bandages, and with 
careful nursing" — here he glanced at Mary — "nature 
will do the rest." 

After giving full instructions regarding my diet and 
forbidding me to talk, the doctors departed. 

A week of studied silence followed ; days of sleeping 
and waiting and watching. In this time I rapidly 
gained in strength. The sensation of numbness in 
both lower limbs was gradually leaving them. My left 
hand and arm I could move a little, but not enough so 
that I could feed myself. My right side, however, 
seemed to have no sense of feeling whatever. 

The doctors came every evening, noted* the progress 
I had made and offered me words of encouragement. 
At last they informed us that I was strong enough to 
be talked to or that some one might read to me ; but 
only for a little while at a time ; not more than half an 
hour each day. 

This was glorious liberty, and my first investment of 
it was with my mother. The next morning, after 
breakfast, she seated herself near the bed and said : 

" Well, my son, now that we can talk to you, I sup- 
pose you want to know all about yourself and how you 
happen to be here !" 

" Yes, mother !" 

She began : 

"Shortly after the Battle of Franklin I received a 
letter from Fred, at Nashville. He told me you 
had been wounded and needed more care than 
you could possibly get from army surgeons and 



262 THE GUN-BEARER. 

nurses. The next morning, after receiving that 
letter, I was on my way to Nashville, where I found 
you in a temporary hospital. You were unconscious 
and, the doctor told me, had been so since the battle. 
Your condition, he said, was produced by two pieces 
of the fractured skull pressing upon the brain. The 
remedy was an extremely difficult operation which he 
intended to perform when you were strong enough. 
The shock your nervous system had received was great, 
and it would yet be weeks before he could think of 
doing anything more for you. Your arm was healing." 

" My arm, mother ?" 

" Yes, my dear boy. The bone of your right arm 
was so shattered that amputation above the elbow was 
necessary." 

" I didn't know that," I said. This accounted for the 
numbness in*my right side. I had no arm and could 
not feel. "Well," I said, trying to look cheerful, "my 
left arm remains and my lower limbs," moving them. 
" Yes, they are yet sound." 

" Better still, my son, the operation of ten days ago 
was successful, and your senses have been restored. As 
soon as the doctor at Nashville thought I could safely 
do so I had you brought home, where you have been 
ever since. Shortly after reaching home a fever set in 
and we almost despaired of your life ; but careful nurs- 
ing brought you safely through." 

" You and Mary nursed me through it all ?" 

" Yes, my boy. Either she or I have been with you 
night and day." 

" You are both very tired." 

" We were both very anxious until after the operation 
ten days ago. Since then the improvement in your 
condition has been so marked that we have rested 



THE GUN-BEARER. 263 

much, to say nothing of the mental relief we have 
enjoyed. But I must finish my story." 

" What about the doctors here, mother ? Who were 
they ?" 

" Several doctors were consulted as to performing the 
operation necessary to relieve that pressure on your 
brain, and, as no one here dared undertake it, a special- 
ist — the old gentleman — was sent for from Cincinnati. 
He came, examined your head and appointed a day 
when he would perform the operation. He said the 
result all depended on the curative resources of nature. 
He could only give you the benefit of his art. Nature 
must provide for the rest." 

" Did he say anything about the wounds ?" 

" There were two separate wounds, he said, at right 
angles with each other, and one very much deeper than 
the other. They were in a healthy condition, however, 
and that was in your favor. That was all he would say, 
except that it was a remarkable case. On the appointed 
day the doctors came, the specialist bringing two friends 
with him from Cincinnati. The operation was per- 
formed, and Doctor Cutler, who lives in town, said the 
old gentleman exhibited wonderful skill. I was not 
allowed in the room. They thought it better not. 
After the operation you went to sleep, and slept 
soundly for the rest of that day and night. The next 
morning you saw Mary sitting by the window, and 
spoke to her." 

" Who was it seated at the table, reading, the night 
before ?" I asked. 

" It was I. Did Mary tell you some one was 
there ?" 

" No, mother. I saw you and tried to call you, but 
failed. I watched you turn the leaves of that book 



264 THE GUN-BEARER. 

for a long time ; wondered where I was and tried to 
make it all out, but finally went to sleep." 

" The doctor thought you might wake up in the night, 
and he was right. But he warned us not to talk to you ; 
that it would be better for you to sleep. I did not hear 
you, however. There, I must not talk any more. Mary 
will tell you all about the battle to-morrow. You have 
heard enough for to-day." 

On the following morning, after disposing of the 
scanty allowance — one poached egg, two small slices of 
buttered toast and a glass of warm milk, which con- 
stituted my breakfast — I asked Mary to tell me all 
about the battle. 

" Do you feel better this morning ?" she asked. 

" Much better," I replied. " Mary, yesterday morn- 
ing mother told me that you and she have nursed 
me ever since I was brought home." 

" It is true," replied Mary. " But I was glad to do it. 
Don't say anything about it. The danger is now passed, 
thank God, and you will soon be up and about." 

" You have been very good to me and I must at least 
say I am grateful for what you have done," I persisted. 

" Then have the goodness not to refer to it again, 
please. Is there not something I can do for you !" 

" Yes ; tell me about the battle, please, and how it 
went. I am anxious to know." 

" You must let me tell you in my own way, then, as 
things occur to me. I can only tell you what Fred has 
told me and what I have read in the daily papers." 

" Fred got out of it all right, then ?" I asked. 

" Yes, but you must not anticipate nor interrupt nor 
question me. Remember, sir," and her face assumed 
an expression of droll importance, " I am to do all the 
talking." 



THE GUN-BEARER. 265 

" All right, Mary, I will remember." 

" In the first place, then, Hood was defeated, losing 
something over six thousand men. Schofield lost two 
thousand men. One thousand of these belonged to 
Wagner's two brigades, who were in front of your works 
before the battle commenced. The fight was about 
over by seven o'clock.; though there were occasional 
volleys from the enemy until ten o'clock. After that 
time, there being no further demonstration, Schofield 
sent out a skirmish line, and not finding the enemy, 
they returned, when our whole force quietly left the 
works and marched to Nashville. The flag you risked 
your life for — " 

"Well?" I asked quickly, my pulses throbbing with 
excitement. 

" Is in this drawer." 

" What ?" I exclaimed, as the thought of this trophy 
being so near, thrilled me. . " Then 1 did capture it 
after all ?"' 

" Yes, but calm yourself, Dan. Be perfectly calm or 
I shall stop talking. It will not do to excite yourself. 
I ought not to have spoken of this." 

" Show it to me Mary. Show it to me. See, I am 
calm." 

With a look of distrust, Mary opened a drawer in the 
table standing near the head of my bed, took out and 
unfolded a tattered, blood-stained, cross-barred flag, 
the general appearance of which had been burned so 
vividly into my memory. 

Hold it up, Mary. Hold it up ! Let me look at it 
once more." 

" Oh, Dan, how could you ?" she said, holding the 
flag up as high as she could reach. " How could you 
dare so much for only a flag ?" 



266 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Only a flag, Mary ; only a flag. Ah, if you had 
seen the hosts of brave men following that flag, 
through smoke and blood, to the jaws of death. If you 
had thrilled with the cheers of encouragement from 
comrades who were watching you ; if you could 
know — " 

" Hush, sir ! Hush ! Remember your promise ; you 
are not to talk. It won't do any good. I have tried, 
but cannot understand it, and I don't believe any 
woman or even a man who has not been in battle can 
understand anything of the inspiration in a flag, that 
leads men to death. It was a daring thing to do. 
They say you jumped onto the works wrenched the 
flag from the hands of its bearer and that too after you 
had been wounded. It was a brave act, and as you were 
between two fires, it is a miracle you were not killed. 
After you had possession of the flag you fell back- 
ward. A man by the name of Searle caught you — " 

" What, Nick ?" I asked. 

" Yes, I think that is his name." 

" Where is he now ?" 

" Remember your promise, and please not interrupt. 
Let me finish the story in my own way. I mean to 
be arbitrary in this matter." 

" I will be silent," I passively responded. " Go on !" 

" Well, then, you were led to the rear as rapidly as 
possible, dragging the captured banner after you. Be- 
fore reaching a place of safety your arm was shattered 
by a bullet ; then you dropped the flag. At the same 
time you received another wound in your head and 
dropped as if dead. Searle dragged you to the ambu- 
lances, where you were examined by the doctor, who 
found you were living and, after dressing your wounds 
temporarily, sent you to Nashville. Fred and others 



THE GUN-BEARER. 



267 



saw you when you captured the flag and have many 
times told the story. Searle, on his return to the 
front, picked up the flag-, tore it from the staff and put 
it in his pocket. He came to see you when the war 
closed." 

"What!" I exclaimed in astonishment at this new 
revelation. "The war — the war — closed, did you 
say ?" 

" Yes, Dan. Lee surrendered on the 9th of April." 

" And I—?" 

" Have been battling for life and reason for nearly 
six months. It is now the 20th of May." 





CHAPTER XXV. 

" How is my boy to-day ?" said mother, on entering 
my room one morning, a few days after the events nar- 
rated in the last chapter. 

" Better, thank you," I replied. " I slept well last 
night, and am now equal to a good breakfast, and feel 
as if I might be up and dressed by and by." 

Mother smiled good-naturedly, and said : 

" There *s nothing to be gained by hurrying. Better 
wait a few days longer. Mary is preparing breakfast, 
and, while you are waiting, I have a little story to tell 
which, I am sure, will surprise you, and I know will do 
you no harm." 

" What is it, mother ?" I asked, wondering how it was 
possible to bring forward anything more surprising 
than had been revealed to me during the days just 
passed. 

" Well, I will tell you. About four weeks since I 
received from a lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee, a letter, 
which had been forwarded to me from Waytown. The 
letter was addressed to your father, and stated that 
father's brother — " 
[268] 



THE GUN-BEARER. 269 

I did not know father had a brother ?" I interrupted. 

" He did, though. But he rarely ever mentioned him. 
His name was Daniel Nichols. He was a rich planter, 
owned a large number of slaves, and was so thoroughly 
aristocratic in his notions that father would have 
nothing to do with him." 

" More 's the pity," I remarked. " His brother might 
have been a great help when father was sick and in 
trouble." 

" Yes, he might, and no doubt would, if he had 
known. But your father was as proud, though not as 
successful, as his brother, and would not have asked for 
help to keep us out of the poor-house." 

" But the lawyer's letter. What about it ?" I asked, a 
little impatiently. 

" I was about to tell you. It was a notice, in effect, 
that Daniel Nichols had died and that his property, by 
reason of the death of his son, had been willed to 
your father, and that the lawyers awaited further 
instructions and would be pleased to attend to all 
matters of transfer, record, et cetera." 

" What is the property, mother ?" 

"A schedule of it accompanied the letter, and it 
amounts to almost one hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars." 

" What ?" I gasped. " One hundred and — Oh, pshaw ! 
It cannot be. It is only a mistake. One hundred and 
fifty thous — Are you sure this is true ?" 

"Quite true, Daniel, and no mistake." 

"And I am — mother, am 1 dreaming? Say that 
again, please," said I, reaching out and taking her hand 
in my own. 

" It is all true, Daniel. Your uncle died and left all 
his property — that is, all the war had left him — to your 



270 THE GUN-BEARER. 

father. As your father is dead the property passes, 
by terms of the will, to you. It is valued at a hun- 
dred and fifty thousand dollars in round numbers, and 
consists of a bank account of some fifty thousand, 
United States bonds, singularly enough, to the extent 
of fifty thousand more, and the balance represents the 
assessed valuation of the plantation, all of which have 
been duly transferred to you, his nephew and only 
living blood relation." 

" And it is then really a fact that I am a — " 
"A rich man, in your own right, Daniel." 
I lay back upon my pillow, closed my eyes and tried 
to take in the situation. My father's brother ! An 
uncle of whom I had never heard, in western Tennes- 
see ! Strangely enough, at that moment I heard a 
familiar tune being whistled by a passing boy on the 
street, and there came to my mind the old chant of 
Black Lige, 

" Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow." 

Quickly following the resurrection of this old tune, there 
passed in mental review the stalwart form of the cap- 
tain's cook, and his effort, the first time we met, to have 
me recognize him as the son of his old master. Lige 
was from Tennessee, they said. Yes, it must be so. 
No doubt I resembled that cousin, and Lige was moved 
to recognition by it. I wondered if I should ever see 
Lige again. If I should happen down there and wel- 
come him back to the old plantation, where, no doubt, 
he was born and had passed all his young life — Mary's 
appearance at this instant put an end to my dream- 
ing, and I asked if Mary knew of my good for- 
tune. 
" Yes, Daniel, Mary knows the whole story." 



THE GUN-BEARER. 271 

" It 's about my uncle in Tennessee," I replied 
in answer to a questioning look from Mary's 
eyes. 

" I am glad for you," she said, simply, " but now we 
have something of vastly more importance to con- 
sider. Here are dainties fit for a king, and you have 
only to eat sir and be well." 

What an appetizing breakfast that was, with Mary 
and mother to supply the needs of my missing hand ; 
and what a delightful experience to watch these dear 
ones as they lovingly vied with each other in their 
efforts to please me. 

After the meal was finished and mother had taken 
away the tray, Mary said : 

" I wonder if you are now in a condition to bear 
another surprise ?" 

" What, another ? Will wonders never cease ?" 

" I hope, Dan, we may never again have anything 
happen to us less pleasing than that which I am about 
to tell you of. But, perhaps, after all, I had better wait 
a day or two longer. You ought not to have too much 
to carry in your mind just yet." 

" There you go, teasing again. You know I am 
strong enough now to bear almost anything. Besides, 
I have already been so thoroughly surprised at every- 
thing that has transpired that I do not see how it can be 
possible to startle me further ; particularly if what you 
tell me is pleasing." 

" Oh, it is decidedly pleasant, or you may be sure I 
would not tell you," Mary replied. " Perhaps, after all, 
I may as well tell you." 

" Do, I implore you," said I, coaxingly. 

Mary looked at me quietly for an instant and then 
said: 



272 THE GUN-BEARER. 

" Do you happen to have the least bit of curiosity to 
know whatever became of your captain ?" 

" Do I want to know where Captain Hartees is ? 
Most emphatically, yes !" 

" Ah, yes, Hartees ! Yes, that 's the name. I could 
not recall it." 

" But what about him ? Do you know where he 
is?" 

" I can make a shrewd guess," as the Yankees say. 

"Come, Mary, tell me what you have to tell, and 
don't tease me any longer ? Was he wounded at 
Franklin ?" 

"No, he was not wounded!" she replied, smiling at 
my impatience. 

" I 'm glad of that," I said, taking hold of her hand 
and looking into her love-lit eyes. 

" Well, we had a letter direct from Waytown one 
day last week, and — " 

" Tell me about that some other time, Mary ; but, 
just now, tell me where Captain Hartees is — or I '11 
cut you off without a shilling !" 

" You are getting positively dangerous, and if you 
don't look out you shall have no dinner !" 

" All right, Mary, have your own way ; take your own 
time ; I 'm sure to know it later." 

" You surely won't if you persist in interrupting me ! 
This letter was dated at Waytown and was signed by 
John Hartees." 

"Well, well, that is, indeed, a surprise. What is he 
doing there, pray ?" 

" That you will learn later, if you please." 

" I should like to see him." 

" It will be your own fault if you do not, as soon as 
you are able to travel !" 



THE GUN-BEARER. 273 

" How SO ?" 

" Because he has settled there. He has married Edith 
Miller, whom I suppose you have heard of." 

" Married Edith Miller ?" 

" Yes, sir ; and, what is more, he is very anxious to 
have you and your mother, when you recover, come 
back to Waytown and live there." 

" We never could do that, Mary, and see our old home 
occupied by strangers." 

" But couldn't you buy it back ?" 

" Yes ; but mother would feel — " 

"Well, it does not happen to be necessary. You 
interrupt me so that I don't make any progress at 
all." 

" I promise I will not speak again," said I. 

" Listen, then. This letter was filled with kindest 
wishes for your speedy restoration to health, and 
expressed the hope that you would soon be able to come 
back to your old home and live near your friends. With 
this letter came a deed of transfer from Edith, turning 
over to your mother all the property which, by fore- 
closure, passed from the hands of your father into the 
possession of Edith's father. What do you think of 
that, sir ?" Mary concluded, with a smile. 

" I do not know what to think of it, my dear, except 

that God has been very good to us and that we have 

very much to be thankful for." 

******* 

Careful nursing hastened my recovery, and in six 
months from the date of the surgical operation which 
restored me to consciousness I stood with Mary at the 
altar, from which we went forth into the world as hus- 
band and wife. 

In good time Mary and I and mother returned to 



274 THE GUN-BEARER. 

Waytown, where a series of pleasant surprises awaited 
us. As the train rolled into the station I caught sight 
of Captain Hartees with his wife Edith. Near by 
I also saw Dick Wentworth, the old station agent, and 
Billy Green. There, too, were big Joe Bentley and 
little Tommy Atkins, with a host of other old-time, 
familiar faces. 

I also noticed that the station itself was decorated 
with bunting and flags. 

As we stepped from the cars to the platform a salute 
was being fired in a neighboring field, and we were at 
once surrounded by loving friends, who gave us a royal 
welcome home. 

What it all meant, what mother or Mary or I had 
done to entitle us to such a reception, or why the air 
was at this moment vibrating with patriotic music 
from the village band, I confess was beyond me to 
explain. 

Carriages awaited us, in which, preceded by the band 
and followed by a crowd of villagers, we rode to the 
Waytown Arms, also gayly decked with flags and 
bunting. 

At the tavern door we were received by the select 
men of the town, by whom we were conducted to the 
parlors, where a public reception was held. Here, 
every one seemed anxious to take me by the hand and 
offer me a word of congratulation — though it appeared, 
considering the fact that I had been only a humble 
private in the army, and was now only a citizen return- 
ing to the home of his boyhood, that my friends were 
making a greater demonstration over the event than 
my record or position would seem to warrant. 

Mary, mother and I stood in one corner of the big 
double parlors, with Captain Hartees, his wife, the 



THE GUN-BEARER. 275 

selectmen close by, and the villagers with extended 
hands and words of welcome passing before us. 

At last the handshaking was finished, and the 
people — all who could be accommodated in the parlors 
— stood waiting, expectantly, as if there was something 
yet to be accomplished or said of which they desired to 
be listeners and observers. 

To me it was an instant of awkward pause, for I 
could not anticipate what was coming ; but it was only 
for an instant, when Bert Smith, chairman of the 
selectmen, armed with an official-looking document, 
stepped in front of, and, in his most impressive manner, 
said : 

" My brother, no doubt you have been surprised at 
the reception which has greeted your arrival home, 
and, perhaps, you have wondered not a little what it 
was all about. I do not know that I can offer a better 
explanation than to say that Waytown is happy this 
day to do honor to one of its heroes. At a meeting 
held in Town Hall, some months since, celebrating the 
close of war and the return of our brave sons, many 
of them scarred and maimed from Southern battle- 
fields, our beloved citizen, Captain Hartees, had some- 
thing to offer in eulogy of what Waytown had done 
during the war, and there described the bravery ex- 
hibited at the Battle of Franklin by the son whom it is 
our delight to honor to-day. Words of mine cannot 
fitly describe the period of anxious waiting for the 
weekly reports that came to us during the weary 
months of your unconsciousness, nor can I express 
the joy we felt on learning the result of the surgical 
skill which restored your reason. We rejoiced that the 
lost was found, that the dead had been made alive 
again, and it now becomes my pleasure to hand you a 



276 THE GUN-BEARER. 

medal of honor, presented by an act of Congress for 
gallantry and personal valor to Daniel Nichols, private 
Company D, Twelfth Kentucky Volunteers, at the 
Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864. Wear 
it, as you alone can wear it, ever remembering, my 
brother, that while the United States may reward with 
medals the devotion and bravery of its loyal sons, 
Waytown will cherish in its heart of hearts a love 
for its heroes which can never grow dim and can never 
pass away." 

As I took the medal in my hand, cheer upon cheer 
went up from the assembled villagers, and I, with a 
heart too full for utterance, could only feebly express 
in words the gratitude I felt for the honors bestowed 
upon me. 

A banquet, such as the Waytown Arms had never 
before found occasion to spread was then served, and 
thus closed the experiences of an eventful day. 

Years afterward, I attended a reunion of the Twelfth 
Kentucky at Louisville, and there met my cousin Fred, 
Nick Searle and Jake Bence. Black Lige also put in 
an appearance and was immediately taken charge of 
by Captain Hartees who succeeded in persuading his 
faithful servant of the past to return with him to 
Waytown. 

Many and cordial were the greetings exchanged at 
that reunion ; and when, at its close, the comrades sepa- 
rated to go their different ways, as if in answer to the 
question I asked myself, " how many of us shall ever 
meet again," Black Lige sang softly, 

" Nebber min' de wedder so de win' don' blow, 
Don' yer bodder 'bout yer trouble till it comes." , 

THE END. 



An American Society Novel. 



GIRLS OF A FEATHER. 



BY 

MRS. AMELIA E. BARR, 

Author of "The Beads of Tasmer," "The Mate of the 'Easter 

Bell,'" "Friend Olivia," "The Household of 

McNeil," "A Sister to Esau," etc. 

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY MEREDITH NUGENT. 

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A PRIESTESS OF COMEDY. 

(COMODIE.) 
BY 

NATALY VON ESCHSTRUTH. 

Translated from the German by Elise L. Lathrop. 
ILLUSTRATED BY WARREN B. DAVIS. 



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A New Novel by E. Werner. 



A Lover From Across the Sea. 

BY 

E. WERNER. 

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY 

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HEARTS AND CORONETS; 

OR, 

WHO'S THE NOBLE? 



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A New Translation from Balzac. 



LOVE 

(L' Envers de 1' Histoire Contemporaine.) 

FROM THE FRENCH OF 

HONORE DE BALZAC. 

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Mrs. Southworth's Best Novels, 



ONLY A GIRL'S HEART, 

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THE REJECTED BRIDE, 

Being "Only a Girl's Heart," Second Series. 



GERTRUDE HADDON, 

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ROBERT BONNER'S SONS, 
Cor. William and Spruce Streets, New York. 



A New Novel by the Author of "A Priestess 
of Comedy." 



COUNTESS DYNAR; 

OR, 

POLISH BLOOD. 

BY 

NATALY VON ESCHSTRUTH, 

Author of" A Priestess of Comedy," " A Princess of the Stage," 

etc. 

WITS ILL USTKA TIONS BY JAMES FAQ AN. 



12mo. 367 Pages. Handsomely Bound in Cloth. Price, $1.25. 
Paper Cover, 50 Cents. 



Nataly von Eschstruth's novels are full of romantic sentiment 
that takes one completely out of the ordinary atmosphere and 
situations of common life. There are a swing to her style, a con- 
tagious enthusiasm and extravagance in her descriptions and a 
freshness in the emotions and passions of her characters, which 
command the attention, excite the feelings and absorb the in- 
terest of every reader. All who have read the "Priestess of 
Comedy" will appreciate the truth of what we say. "Countess 
Dynar " is a book of most unusual beauty. The illustrations are 
admirably illustrative of the scenes and characters. 

For sale by all booksellers and newsdealers, or sent, postpaid, 
on receipt of price, by the publishers, 

ROBERT BONNER'S SONS, 
Cor. William and Spruce Streets, New York. 



An Interesting Novel. 



A SLEEP-WALKER. 

BY 

PAUL H. GERRARD. 

ILLUSTRATED BY WARREN B. DA7Z& 



12mo. 314 Pages. Handsomely Bound in Cloth. Price, $1.00. 
Paper Cover, 50 Cents. 



" A Sleep-Walker " is a novel of incident. As the title indicates, 
complications arise from the doings of a fair somnambulist. In 
the opening a mysterious woman is discovered in the act of throw- 
ing a child into a reservoir. The fate of the child and the iden- 
tity of the woman are matters upon which the plot of the story 
turns. Much is involved, and a large number of persons inter- 
ested, and a series of events transpire, all of which go to form a 
dramatic story ot most sensational interest. The story is pub- 
lished simultaneously in England and this country and is well 
calculated to please readers in both countries. 

For sale by all booksellers and newsdealers, or sent, postpaid, 
on receipt of price, by the publishers, 

ROBERT BONNER'S SONS, 
Cor. William and Spruce Streets, New York. 



RARE BOOK 
COLLECTION 







THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

AT 

CHAPEL HILL 

Wilmer 

928 

c.l